Tuesday, December 8, 2009

On the original black-labeled ChapStick

I have a tube of original ChapStick with the black label with white print on my dresser. I have a blue-labeled tube, "lip moisturizer" in my makeup bag that I apply frequently but don't think twice about.

The black-labeled tube smells like hardened vaseline, like my father, like my first encounter with chap stick, like my father's absence. I look at the black label and white lettering as it sits on my dresser or between my pointer and thumb and I see the tube on the wood and glass table near the beveled edge in front of the black and white striped couch in my childhood home. I see the tube lying in the bathroom drawer amongst brushes and hair grease and even strands of my hair. I see my dad pulling it from his overly starched light blue jeans and applying it to his lips. I see this black-tube all over my childhood. I smell my father and good times growing up.

I remember watermelon juice oozing from the rind, from my mouth. I laugh as I try not to swallow the seeds. I taste and smell the watermelon in the heat of July in Nashville.

I taste the mint chocolate chip scoop on a sugar cone from Baskin Robbins. I remember the four of us piling into my father's car, which strangely I can't see the color, make or model. I see us driving less than 10 minutes away to choose from the 31 Flavors on the corner of Bell Road and Murfreesboro Road two doors down from Kroger. I see my brother's rainbow sherbet, a medley of orange, green, pink and sugary sweetness.

I hear my father playing for me Brothers Johnson, "Strawberry Letter 23" on an old album on his old stero, when I play Tevin Campbell's newer version on cassette. I hear him tell me about the originals. I hear him school me on old-school. I listen to the instruments versus the synthesizers.

I see my father smiling, laughing.

We were never close. I'm jealous of a good friend who says she talks to her father as a way of keeping him here.

I never had that relationship. I don't talk to my father. I do try to hold onto the memories, the smells, the sounds, the sights. Sometimes, I feel like I'm missing someone who loved me. When I feel a gaping vacancy, sometimes I let my nostrils breathe in that original ChapStick for a few seconds longer.

1 comment:

  1. It's amazing how we see our past as snap shots of what happened remembering some details while forgetting others. And it appears as though the subconscious works on it's own mission picking up pieces and thinking about things that were so long ago or far off. I like this piece in how it connects simple everyday object with emotional possessions..