“Mommy, what is that?” Sawyer holds out his hand, a small brown nut in his palm. Not the smooth shelled kind packaged neatly in the store, but rough and imperfect.
“A pecan. That’s a type of nut. Remember they used to fall into the pool in our other house?”
“No. I don’t remember that.”
We have been in our new house only a month, yet my boys have already forgotten the pecans. In all fairness, pecans are a small thing. Yet in this lapse of memory, I felt a shock of sadness. Isn’t all memory, real memory, tied up in the small details?
It is pecans in the pool and the smell of our house when we returned after a few days’ absence. My earliest few memories, from New Orleans when I was only three: playing with the Dr. Fill-and-Drill Play Doh set in our neighbor’s driveway; my father lifting me up into a wooden seat above the Mardi Gras crowd. Not the parade itself with its clamor and color, only the feeling of hands on my waist and the sensation of rising.
I’ve heard that if you loosen a butterfly from its cocoon, it will never be able to fly. The muscles in its wings do not fully develop without the struggle. A month into our new house, I feel oddly betrayed by how quickly it has replaced our old one; cheated as though some invisible membrane was cut for us. There was struggle, yes, but the transition seems too swift. The peaceful feeling of home we have somehow unearned.
When we moved from New Orleans to Richmond I was three. My parents told me I cried for days, waking at night and begging to go home. I expected that here, small faces pressed to mine in the middle of the night. Perhaps tears, confusion, talk of missing home. But we have all shrugged off the seven years spent in our old house, losing things like the memory of pecans.
Linking up this week with Not So (Small) Stories, my weekly linky about writing craft and community. Come read a bevy of different voices!