Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Nostalgia: documented for my family

nostalgia (for my blog)


Sometimes I'm hit with such huge waves of nostalgia for my childhood that it makes me want to cry. I know I'm quite lucky to look back on growing up so fondly, and I continually count my blessings that my parents provided me with such a glorious upbringing. I grew up in New Jersey, in a wonderful house right in the woods of Jackson. Jackson is in central Jersey, in a gorgeous wooded area, and is a small town with friendly people. If I close my eyes I can almost take myself right back to all the beautiful memories I have of the thirteen years I spent growing up on the East Coast. The smell of tomato vines still transports me to our backyard garden, butter popcorn is the smell of our Friday TGIF nights, and anytime pizza is heated up on tinfoil in a toaster oven, all I can think about is eating our leftovers during Saturday morning cartoons. Growing up to me is a mix of library books and bike rides, grassy afternoons and swimming in our backyard until our skin turned into prunes. My sister Lauren and I grew up as each others' main playmates and closest friends. We would spend hours and hours playing dress up, make believe, dancing, laughing, twirling, telling secrets, and speaking in our own language. We didn't have toys with bells and whistles, we had toys that made us think, treasure chests of vintage clothing that inspired us to create, shelves and shelves of books that begged us to read, and art supplies that motivated us to make something, anything. Growing up so many of my days were spent listening to my parents' old 45s on my Fisher Price record player, tapes in my tape deck, and 8-tracks on the downstairs stereo. Bruce Springsteen, Elton John, Fleetwood Mac, Willie Nelson. Music was everywhere. I recall so many bright summer days: running through the sprinkler in our green, green grass in the dog days of July, riding our bikes up and down the driveway, and begging our parents to take us exploring in the acres and acres of woods in our backyard. I remember celebrating Jackson Day every year, eating funnel cake, making splatter art, creating bottles of colored sand, and oohing and ahhing over the fireworks. We'd spend many fun afternoons at Great Adventure, and I can still think back to excitedly waiting in line each year for our season pass. Beach days were almost everyday in the summer. My parents would treat us to many concerts in the huge amphitheater, laughing with their friends as Lauren and I would dance dance dance to whoever we were seeing on that starry night. Food brings back some of the strongest memories: "frankfurters" and cheeseburgers on the barbecue, Heinz ketchup and spicy mustard, red skinned potato salad, homemade ice pops, tri-color pasta salad, hard rolls and butter from Glory's, sun tea in the big pitcher, egg and bacon sandwiches at the Mug Rack, followed by hot chocolate with lots of whipped cream, my Dad's Oodles of Noodles in a steaming mug, tomato soup and saltines, turkey subs from Wawa, cherry Icees, huge slices of pizza on the boardwalk, waffles and ice cream, peanut butter and jelly from our cooler on the beach, gouda cheese and crackers, fresh popped popcorn in the metal bowl, artichokes and asparagus. It's my Dad's old red Malboros and bottles of Rolling Rock beer whenever he was building something around the house. The smell of Bartells and James wine coolers whenever they had a get together. It's the same appetizers we still eat every Christmas Eve, the traditions we had growing up that still continue. It's the night visits to Carvel, my strawberry with rainbow sprinkles, Italian ice runs, and black and white milkshakes at Steve's while playing The Everly Brothers on the jukebox. It's Daisy and Brownie Girl Scout meetings, dance class after school, cold Saturday mornings at the soccer fields, Big League Chew packs at t-ball games. It's camping in Wildwood with the Glowackis, swimming and tuna fish sandwiches at the Ostroskis. Marco Polo, TV tag, impromptu soccer games, and softball tournaments always followed by Slurpees at 7-11. My childhood house in itself is magical in my mind- the attic was always such a place of wonder, boxes and boxes of treasures just waiting to be unearthed. The "white shed" in the backyard, where I always thought I could talk to the ghosts of horses past. I remember the woods across the street, being pulled in a wagon to go collect wild blueberries. Hearing the clink of a spoon in a mug, or the gurgle of a coffee maker early in the morning always reminds me of my father, the same way soft singing and happy movements around a home are my mothers. I feel so fortunate that I can't think of anything negative when I think of growing up and during my childhood years. I know this is rare, and I cherish this so much, and my sister (still my best friend) often talk about how wonderful it was. We are fortunate enough to be able to visit Jackson every so often, and the excitement still lingers to this day. We both can't wait to have kids of our own so we can try to give them the same beautiful, amazing childhood we had. I can't express to my parents enough thank yous to ever encompass what they have done for us in giving us such a chunk of our lives as so safe, inspiring, and peaceful. I'll try again and I'll keep trying- thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

16 comments:

  1. I really, really enjoyed reading this. Maybe it's because I always dreamed of such a childhood. You are a very lucky lady!

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  2. Aww, I really enjoyed reading your happy memories. Made me stop and remember my childhood a bit. I often think about how fun it will be someday to create special memories for my children. Great read Danielle! :)

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  3. Yay for happy childhoods! This inspires me to document mine, even non-publicized.
    Loving the positivity you grew up with, you can really see it now (even if it is through 140 characters on Twitter :P)

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  4. Thanks guys! I'm so glad you enjoyed reading it. I'm really excited for my sis and Mom to do the same :)

    and Diana, you totally should! I'm happy I took the time to do it. <3

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  5. Oh man I totally know what you're talking about. There was one point in my life, after highschool, when I was realizing that I had to grow-up and become an adult, get a job, etc. and it was so hard for me for some reason. I would constantly think about my childhood, look at old pictures, and feel strongly nostalgic. There's comfort in the memories, but also there's that longing for the feeling of total security, knowing that others are "in charge". Sometimes it's scary to think one day my parents will be gone and it will be just me. Thank goodness for my husband.

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  6. I loved reading your story, Danielle! You are such a great role model in the sense that you are filled with positivity and inspiration. Not everyone experienced a childhood as wonderful as yours, but by telling your story it's like you are sharing a piece of happiness with them. :)

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  7. this was just so beautiful to read... thank you for sharing your heart.

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  8. We did have a great childhood-everything seemed so magical. You are such a talented writer, every sentence took me back to snapshots of our childhood. I miss it so much! We are so lucky to have such an amazing family and so many great childhood memories. Thank you for writing this, now we will be able to remember forever! I love you Danielle. ML ML ML

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  9. I had a similar childhood. Pretty much perfect. Until my dad started up his cocaine addiction and my mom had to leave. That was a dose of harsh reality! Ouch.

    Good read though, made me think of how fun it was to be a kid :)

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  10. Oh my GOSH this is SUCH AN AMAZING POST!!!! I think I might try to do a post like this. It started making me think of my childhood!!! Oh my gosh, I loved growing up! :]

    Seriously, your post has put a huge smile on my face!!!

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  11. first let me say that i just found your blog and i love it! i read every day! second i had to comment on this post- i'm from the same area!! i grew up in howell, n.j., right by jackson! no one ever knows where that is! i'm now in florida and try to bring my daughter up there to visit her great grandma all the time. she really loves delicious orchards and their apple cider donuts!

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  12. Oh Danielle! That post was amazing...you have totally inspired me! I love thinking back on my childhood...all the sights, sounds, smells, tastes! I'm so glad that you shared this with us. Just magical!
    xo

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  13. What wonderful, lovely memories to cherish! Butter popcorn was also the smell of Friday nights while watching TGIF for me too:)
    I love this idea!! I'm going to write up a childhood memory post for myself and my family before I forget anything. Great writing!!

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  14. Aww, I am so glad so many of you liked reading this! I'm happy to share it:)

    I also have to say that I have some of the nicest "anons" around- love you guys.

    and Nicole- I love the place you're talking about and now I'm craving those doughnuts! SO GOOD.

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  15. beautiful post! i too had an amazing childhood, growing up in salt lake city, and my brother and sister were also my closest friends. this made me think back to all the fun we had together playing outside and exploring together. you write things so vividly, i love it! <3

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