Orange Peanuts

I regretted getting the wrong cart. It squeaked and stuttered on the waxy floors of the grocery store. Shiloh jerked the wheel of the plastic car attached to the front of the cart, speeding his way to an imaginary finish line. “Koom Koom!” he cried, announcing to the other shoppers that he was speeding down aisles of produce and packages.

It was our turn to bring snacks for church Thursday small group, and I tried to get as many kid and gluten and dairy-free items as possible. Throwing the last item into the cart, a cold box of lemon and cherry flavored Italian ice, my eyes were caught on a bag of candy orange peanuts. I knew they were not in the least healthy, a combination of puffed sugar and food coloring, but nostalgia carried the bag into my cart.

The carrot colored sugar foam transports me back to a living room of my childhood on Dickerson Street. Of wild Appalachian mountains and catching lightning bugs in clear plastic cups and milk jugs. Of lonely limbo of being too old for the children but too young for the adults. Of eating sweet Christmas ribbon candy and chocolate boxes with the mystery flavors revealed by finger punctures. Of badminton tournaments and water hoses spraying. Of times and people now gone forever.

As I taught F. Scott Fitzgerald’s line this morning, “You can’t repeat the past?… Why of course you can!”, I disagree with Mr. Jay Gatsby. Once in a while, a wisp of times past curls around my present. The laughs echo and turns my chin backward. The relationships which crumbled beneath the gravity of life only left weathered ruins for us to remember. The rusty swings. The dying fireflies. A different future than we all thought we’d have –

We can only sing the lyrics of yesterday and stomp to the rhythm of today.


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