Do you remember how you first learnt to wash a plate? Or helped with the cooking? Do you remember when you first learnt how to water plants and mow a lawn? Tidy a bed? Help with the groceries?
One chilly night in Perth, as I was washing the dishes after dinner, my fingers paused a moment and they recalled where I learnt how to do this from. My mind zipped me back to 80s, to a large house in Townsville, Australia. This was the place a place and time I spent when I was a fat little kid.
This fat little kid was done with his dinner and his aunt thought that it was not good for fat little kids to just run off to the television after eating. She fiercely ordered me back to the kitchen and introduced me to sponge and detergent. “Soap them up first and don’t let the water run! Don’t waste water!”, she would command. “Don’t just scrub the front, clean also the back! Your plates must be spotless!”
The dish washing skills stayed, as did many of the everyday life skills I now take for granted.
My aunt doesn’t live in Townsville anymore, she has since moved to Perth. It is a larger city. The buildings are different, the roads are different. Yet in a way, the environment didn’t change. The smells and the sounds remain suspended in time. The sweet fragrance of cold air and sandalwood and gum trees smell the same as it was when I first arrived at her house in the 80s. The television jingles with advertisements from Woolworths, Chemists and other discount stores still sound the same. As does the ice-cream truck.
When I poured a glass of milk to drink, my tongue savoured the past. The milk still tastes the same – rich, malty and makes your cereal so much more delightful to eat. Oh yes, fat little kid me couldn’t have enough of chocolate milk with cereal each morning. It was chocolate milk and cereal for weeks at a time and I’d still have nothing else.
I strolled into the garden and took off my slippers to feel the grass. And my feet remembered how it was like as a kid, I ran barefoot everywhere. Tarmac, concrete, grass, hay. I recalled how these feet chased grasshoppers and kicked frogs. How they left little fat feet stains on white walls. How it hurt, but still felt fun to run on the road barefoot playing baseball.
And when I heard the postman arrived, I went out to take a peek at the letterbox. With a flick of the fingers, and a peek through the box…I remembered these actions. Back then, I would eagerly run to the postbox each time the postman was here. Always wanting to be the first to read my aunt’s copy of “Reader’s Digest”. Even the junk mail was fun to read. I would study the junk mail carefully, considering each word and what it meant. Marketing language was so much more fun to a 10 year old when you didn’t actually understood what commerce meant.
Thank you Australia for never changing. Thank you for sealing up my childhood memories and keeping them fresh for recollection.