"Sometimes you will never know the value of something, until it becomes a memory." -Dr. Seuss
Some evenings I channel surf for TV that catches my interest. Hugely popular are reality shows that renovate, rehab, restore and resurrect! Maine Cabin Builders, This Old House, Barnyard Builders, DIY, HGTV share an energy that challenges us to pick up a hammer, tear out a wall or in my case, hire a contractor! But rooted in the success of these programs is the fact that these remodeling projects are so much more than buildings, sheds, or even pieces of furniture. While some view houses as barometers of success and benchmarks of their achievements, goals and dreams, it is our childhood home and neighborhood haunts that become the archives of our memories and libraries of our souls.
Step inside an old barn or garage and breathe deeply. A memory smells like the story it is wrapped in. In my case, old barns smell of hay and the mustiness of drying tobacco, while garages smell of gasoline and turpentine. Those very special places become the keepers of our secrets and diaries of our lives….staircases memorialize mishaps, kitchens record smells and tastes and bedrooms conjure images of tooth fairies and the boogie man in the closet. I remember eavesdropping in a back staircase as my father expressed his concerns to and for our housekeeper as she prepared to travel to DC to hear Martin Luther King speak at the Lincoln Memorial. This 10 year old had no idea the impending impact of that day in history but remember vividly my father giving Amy lots of coins to call him from a pay phone in case of trouble. I remember barns that were havens from the summer’s heat transformed to stages for evening performances. We had our own children’s theater showcasing Cleopatra and Heidi, and the porch was the classroom in which to play school. Door frames were yardsticks measuring growth year-to-year and basements were cool sanctuaries in which to hide.
Memories scoot into artists’ painting, stirring the recesses of the viewer’s mind…prodding, pulling and unearthing long buried recollections. Suddenly you sat on those back steps, that shed housed your wagon and your brother got caught smoking in that garage! The artist sees that structure as so much more than brick and mortar; they see the collective memory that gives rise to emotion. They capture the good feelings and scary feelings, the joy and despair, and the hopes and dreams that live forever when we reminisce!