An empty wooden bowl stained a dark brown collects dust on the shelf amidst other useless trinkets and knick-knacks in the name of décor. I looked at the bowl without really seeing it for years when suddenly the bowl is overflowing with the colors and smells of a twenty year old memory.
The room is dark and warm with the summer air. The windows are open and dingy lace curtains gently billow with the night breeze. It smells like fresh cut grass and gasoline and pollen and earthworms. Three feet of rabbit ear antenna are connected to an old tv that flickers in hues of green and pink.
It is Movie Night in a pre-Netflix world. There is a stack of VHS boxes from which to choose the evening’s entertainment. First up, Cujo. Perhaps, not the best choice for two kids who are scared of the dark, loud noises, cauliflower and clowns. Nonetheless, the tape gets pushed into the mouth of the VCR and starts rolling to a limited but captive audience.
We pass the same smooth wooden bowl filled with popcorn back and forth, each taking a handful. I let a piece dissolve and shrink on my tongue before taking on another for the disintegration process. It’s a complicated and slow way to eat popcorn, for sure.
Baby Bird stops passing the bowl and instead holds it between his hands, entranced by the scene on the flickering screen. As a massive black dog lunges almost out of the set, Baby Bird screams. He tips the bowl over his head and eyes, and like an ostrich with his head in the sand, he feels safe. Popcorn rains down onto his shoulders and gathers around his little body, like the falling of dogwood flowers around their tree in Spring. It is a beautiful mess.
The bowl is back on the shelf, a retired relic of the past. However, the memory is wily, not to be sterilized or neatly labeled and categorized. Instead it disappears into the shadows of the mind with days of red popsicles, puppies, summer breaks, and Baby Bird who is thousands of miles away from his refuge under the bowl.