I feel all jittery and anxious today and I know a majority of that stems from ‘Arrow’ returning tonight and the TV nerd in my so pumped to have one of my major favorites back but I also like to take that energy and channel it into writing/thinking of what to write. Which is what I did most of this afternoon and evening at work, I was on a really good track thinking of ways to describe love and interactions that describe that feeling when I came across this blurb on Tumblr by someone I follow, but before I knew it had really struck me I was pages past it and didn’t want to go back and find it. The basic idea though was about how it’s weird to think about the fact that we have these sections of our lives that are big, important, and a little molding in who we turn out to be but at the same time they are “the past” or “nostalgia” and exist in mostly memories and little things here and there we carry over from that time but rarely are still big and take up as much presence in your day-to-day life at the current moment.
The subject is really intriguing to me because it can mean so many different things to each individual person, their “phases” and periods in life are going to be unique to them and that means there are millions upon millions of nostalgic stories that have their moment in time and fundamentally impact the way a person is the way they are right now and the way they’ll be. So I just let my mind think about that and came up with the below piece.
“What’s this?” Madison says from her end of the attic and holds out a dusty, large t-shirt that had seen much better days. It was littered with paint from the few times it had been worn for that explicit purpose but even more with signatures slightly faded in the years since they first soaked themselves into the fabric but clear enough to read.
A fond smile came to Juliet’s face before she could even think to process the immediate emotion and connection to the shirt. Getting up from her spot and the boxes spread around her she closed the distance between them and squatted down beside her daughter and tugged the garment from her hands in a gentle motion.
The texture was still soft from the last wash it had gone through, but it smelt faintly of dust and must given its surroundings for the last five years or so. Juliet held it across her one hand and forearm while she ran the fingers of her other over the cut out collar to make a loose neck that often draped over her shoulder when she used to wear it. The graphic was cracked and peeling in a few spots but mostly still bold and stretching across the chest of the once robin’s egg blue shirt. Without tearing her eyes away she tilted her head towards Madison and spoke, “It’s an old shirt of mine, from the days I lived in New York and obsessed over theater, would go to any show I could manage to scrape up the money for and then on other days I had no money I would wait outside the stage doors to get things, like this shirt, signed by the cast.”
She’d lived in New York for seven years, moved there just after she had graduated college with her teaching degree hoping she could score a decent job at a inner-city school and teach art to kids. The first three she was a substitute only at a number of schools, both in the city and some out in the burbs and even over in New Jersey and she had to pick up part-time jobs at movie theaters or diners or department stores, anything to help pay the rent and keep at least two shelves in the fridge stocked with edible food. When finally a school in Brooklyn had asked to hire her full-time she was over joyed to only need another job if she felt like she wanted the extra disposable income, and that she could stay in Manhattan and just take the subway.
In just a matter of time in the city she had caught the bug for theater and found herself joining groups of people who would get together and see shows or just sit at coffee houses and talk about the latest plays or musicals and the chances for Tony’s and who would last, who wouldn’t, and would they make it from off-Broadway to ‘The Great White Way’, She had made great friends, some she had later lived with during her time in the city, some she dated briefly, and some she still kept in brief contact with now but those were only a few.
Flashes of so many memories were flooding her mind it was hard to sort them all into certain categories with dates and shows and actors. Over the shirt she could see the box that Madison had been digging in by her side still, filled to the brim with Playbills and other shirts or posters that Juliet had collected over the years. To realize a huge time in her life was now capable of fitting itself into a medium-sized moving box and taking up just a small corner of her attic in Virginia was a special kind of twinge-like pain in her chest. It was a period in her life that had meant a great deal, had taught her a lot, had helped to shape her into the person she was even to this day. It was during that time she had first met Dierks, in one of the various diners or coffee places her and her theater loving friends would gather. He was working there and always caught her eye, always paid special attention to her until one day he had written, “Would you like to do this again? With just me? When I am not working, and preferably not here?” on the back of her receipt.
Of course she agreed, they had ended up going to a show, his very first, and an all night diner just around the block from his where they stayed till five in the morning just talking. From then he had gone to many more shows and she had started to do things like bike and go to history museums with Dierks, melding their lives into a cohesive one. By the time they had gotten married Dierks had a masters in History from NYU and an offer to teach in Virginia and Juliet had a growing belly, so they moved from the city and made a home on the coast. They went back every once-in-a-while but only for big occasions, neither had kept in contact with more than just a few of their friends and Juliet couldn’t even think of the last time she watched the Tony’s let alone knew who any of the top contenders were.
Madison’s voice burst into her thoughts and pulled her back to the present, “Really? I didn’t even know you liked that stuff.”
Shaking her head Juliet turned to her daughter and saw the same shade of green Dierks had and the auburn curls that fell around her face were much like Juliet’s own. “I used to love it, it was one of my favorite things.”
“We should go to one.” Madison speaks in an inquiring but determined tone and when Juliet just scrunches her eyebrows in confusion Madison points at the shirt still being cradled in her hands, “To a show, in the city. Let Zac and I see the lives you and dad had long before we were even a twinkle in your eyes.”
Already she is back to digging through boxes looking for the photo album they had come up here for in the first place, trying to shrug off her honest and true curiosity. It was a very typical habit she had picked up from her mother; never show too much interest but keep your voice anchored enough to let them know it isn’t a throw away comment either. Juliet smiles to herself again as she sees the blend of her and Dierks in their eldest, and she realizes how much she does long to show that world to her kids. A world that was once a very important part of her and their father’s lives, a world that was their world once upon a time. Lifting the shirt so the chest was level with her face Juliet ran her eyes over it once more before she carefully folded it and set it back inside the box she wanted to go through more closely later before smiling and turning to face Madison and saying, “We should, I’d like that a lot.”