lesson 1: the feeling of grass between your toes is lovely
"Before the age of one, I learned that grass feels nice on your toes. My dad has a home movie, where in the spring of 1968 he took me outside for my first grass experience. My mom must have taken the camera away from him, since we have so few home movies of him. In the movie, sky is blue and we are in the backyard of the suburban bungalow my family lived in. I'm probably no more than a few months old. My dad is carrying me a bit like I could break. Gently. My older brother is hovering nearby. And then my dad leans down, and dangles my feet over the spring green grass, and I laugh one of those toothless gummy baby laughs, and he laughs too. There's about five minutes of film of this. Of him gently swaying me over the grass, and us laughing."
"Do you still have the movie?"
"Yeah. My dad still puts it on and plays inappropriate music as background. There is a really specific smell that those reel-to-reels have. Also the screen smells a certain way."
"OK. That raises a couple of questions. Inappropriate music?"
"Not like Led Zeppelin or anything, more like Beethoven's fifth, polka music or xylophone music. A bit of a dubious choice for films about a baby... It's funny. I actually love it."
"And another question. The screen smells?"
"I don't know how to describe it. It's kind of like... No, I can't describe it. But if I were to pull out our film projector and screen right now, I know exactly what it would smell like. There was always a kind of magic about home movie nights. The lights off, weird music in the background, my mom would make tea, and then those smells... of the projector, of the film itself. The light on the screen and everything else fading into the background."
"Did you watch your home movies a lot when you were a kid?"
"No. Mostly only at Christmas or right after my dad had the film developed."
"Are the films in black and white?"
"I'm not that old."
"OK. Well, this is a bit long if you are going to have an entry per year. Next time maybe we should keep it a bit shorter."
"I'll try." She has this faraway look on her face, and then she says, "I still like the feeling of grass on my feet."