Dear Mr. Potter,
I’ve heard you have a magic wand. I’m not a Gryffindor, but very much a fan; and my request is simple. There are a few things I’d like to see and do again. Just once, to know if they were as wonderful as I remember. Perhaps you can help. I’d like to:
Climb the high board ladder at Riverside Park swimming pool and see if it still extends to clouds, and I can summon the courage to cannonball into the deep end.
Sit in the stands for a Friday night football game at Newell Field when Murrah and Provine are going at it hammer and tongs and I’m hoarse from the morning pep rally.
Walk into the Paramount Theatre on Capital Street with an overflowing box of buttery popcorn and an icy coke to find out if Psycho is still terrifying.
Return to Kennington’s to shop for a party dress and new pair of Mary Janes.
Trick or treat up and down the streets of Belhaven in my Fairy Queen costume, even though it made my legs itch.
Feel the jittery butterflies of the first day of school, as well as the explosion of joy on the last. (Another delicious Power School cafeteria roll would be fun, too.)
Walk down the wide marble stairs of the Mississippi State Capitol Building and be frightened by the “mummy” that wasn’t.
Drive around town with my parents to see the Christmas lights, and visit the miniature Christmas village at the Baptist Orphanage.
Go skating at Leo’s.
Win a hula hoop contest.
Walk into church on Easter Sunday in my first-ever pair of semi-high heels.
Swap secrets with my best friend.
Watch Bucky Beaver whiz by in his space ship and brusha, brusha, brusha with new Ipana.
Drive up North State Street in my Chevy convertible when the radio DJ says, “Here’s a song from a new group – they’re English – The Beatles, maybe……” Oh yeah, I’ll tell you somethin’, I think you’ll understand. When I say that somethin’, I wanna hold your hand.
Jump up and down on the Heidelberg Hotel’s “trampoline ballroom floor” during the homecoming dance, while the chaperones yell “Stop! You’re going to kill us!”
Eat a pronto pup slathered in mustard at the Mississippi State fair, then bite into a crisp candy apple or a pineapple soft serve cone. (Yes, I know they’re still available, but my cantankerous stomach can’t handle that much fun).
Dance to “Sherry Baby,” “Twist and Shout,” and for a sweaty cheek, body melding, ear nuzzling slow dance, “I Can’t Help Falling in Love with You.”
Relive the first time I saw Lucy McGillicuddy Ricardo explain the benefits of Vita Meatavegemin. “It’s so tasty too!”
Eat another slice of my mother’s homemade apple pie
Ride the escalator at Sears,
Walk out of my high school graduation with a diploma in hand and wonder what’s next.
Drive around Shoney’s in Westland plaza on a busy Friday night to see who else is there.
Settle into a wooden Adirondack chair on the wide front lawn of the Edgewater Gulf Hotel in Biloxi and feel the soft breeze flowing in from the gulf. I’d brush sand off my toes and watch rainbow colored kites fluttering high above the beach. I’d like to dip my hand into a bag of salt water taffy and unwrap a piece of chewy goodness, as every muscle in my body goes limp and sleep tugs at my eyes.
Obviously, this is a list of impossibilities, a litany of long-gone days, which have vanished in the blink of an eye. Nothing can be retrieved or brought back by a miraculous second coming. But my memories haven’t vanished, not by a long shot. They’re still here, every bit of them, locked in my brain and nailed down tight. Memories are one of the few things in life that no one can ever take away. They hang around my neck like a string of pearls. The faces of my childhood friends will never be saggy and wrinkled, their voices will never be weak. I’ll always hear them laugh about an adventure we shared, or giggle about the time when we got up to no good. Time passes, but memories don’t. So, thanks Harry Potter, but I don’t need your wand after all. I’ll just take out my memories, place them in my lap like a warm furry kitten, and listen to them purr.
Averyell A. Kessler is a native Jacksonian living in Fondren.