On summer evenings when my parents weren’t working late, after we had exhausted the record player and worn footprints in the shag carpet, we would be ushered into the bath and then dressed quickly into our pj’s.
Hair still wet, we would wait perched on the foot of the stairs, with our heads dangerously close to getting stuck in between the banisters and watch mom take coins from the jar in the corner of the dinning room that held our discarded spare change. The jar, would later become the vehicle from which we would steal pennies from for candy at the corner store. After the right amount of money was lifted from the jar by mom’s hand, we would be out the front door to the car. The beautiful beast of a car.
By now we knew the routine. We knew what was coming next, but if we didn’t behave…if we didn’t behave before we reached our destination, we knew the car would turn right back and go home. We had seen him turn it around before. My brother and I would share a nod, a mutual understanding of I won’t bug you until tomorrow. We even had a “truce” hand gesture – a fist with a pinky raise – which in later years we would pretend was the middle finger and get away with mouthing off to each other behind mom’s back. For now though, the pinky raise meant truce and it was one step closer to our destination.
The drive-in ice cream shop.
There was always something magical about eating ice cream whilst in our pj’s, even outside on a hot humid summer night. Sometimes we would eat in our car, but often times we would sit outside on the picnic tables, probably when my parents realised ice cream, kids and the interior of a car didn’t work so well.
It’s one of those moments from childhood that I remember being blissfully happy. As though nothing could touch us right there. I get that wave of nostalgia every time I sit at a picnic table, or eat a sweet after a night-time shower.
Even now sometimes when I’m feeling down and need a bit of lifting, I’ll purposely do this ritual. Although typically nowadays, the ice cream comes from my freezer into a mug and a curl-up on the couch with a book comes next.
Wet hair to the pillow fills in the gaps though.
Your go to ritual for lifting away the blues?