notquiteold

Nancy Roman

Do-Over

Every September, as I watch the kids go back to school, I get the same yearning.

I wish it were me packing up Dad’s station wagon to go off to college.

I’d take my favorite pillow, and those narrow twin-bed sheets and an Indian batik bedspread.

I’d bring my popcorn popper to warm a can of Campbell’s tomato soup.  And my old stereo turntable and my scratchy Crosby, Stills, and Nash albums.

And my big Underwood typewriter that I bought used for $12.00 – the kind where you have to pound the keys and then sometimes the spindles with the letters get stuck together in mid-air. With onion-skin erasable typewriter paper and a gum eraser.

I’d need notebooks too – the narrow-ruled kind. no larger than 5X8, so my notebooks are about the same size as my textbooks, making a neater stack to carry. Colored pens too – so I can color-code my notes.

I’ll take my bucket to carry my soap and shampoo and comb and toothbrush and toothpaste back and forth to the communal bathroom.

With my bell-bottom jeans, moccasins, and the sweater I knitted myself that has one little mistake in the shoulder –

I’d be ready.

Ready for my do-over.

I’ll sit in my Literature class and discuss The Moviegoer by Walker Percy. When the professor asks why Binx prefers the movies to real life, I’ll say exactly what I said in 1972:

“Movies are better than real life because unexpected things happen. Nothing unexpected ever happens in real life.”

And that scruffy boy will get up from the back of the room and walk over to me. He’ll lean over the desk and kiss me without touching anything but my innocent unpainted lips.  And that boy will return to his seat without looking back. And I will shrug off the moment with a quip:

“As I was saying…”

And everyone will laugh.

And the class will be over and we’ll all leave.

And this time – this time – I will run down the hallway. And I will grab that young sweet man by his flannel shirt-tail. And he will turn around.

And I will kiss him back.

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35 Comments

  1. Wow, that’s really well-written. Very sad. Thank you for sharing this.

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    • Not so sad. It really is a sweet memory… I just wonder….

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  2. This is truly wonderful!

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    • Thanks! I’ve been trying to find a way to tell this story for a long time.

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  3. I love the nostalgia, Nancy. If only… sigh.
    You’re right. September brings back memories but at my age, I don’t wish to look too far back. It might not be good for my health. 🙂

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    • I want to go back to school! I want to walk around that campus in the fall, and buy new books and hear new professors. How sweet it was.

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  4. So very poignant, Nancy. But I think that life wasn’t so bad to you. Except for maybe Cabella’s.

    And it is always delightful to wonder, isn’t it?

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    • Oh, Life has been very very good. But that boy still sticks in my mind. The strange thing is that I can’t remember ever seeing him class before that day or after. It’s like he appeared for that moment to make a memory – and then disappeared.

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  5. You have a wonderful way of taking me back in time right along with you. This post is the perfect daydream of returning to an old world that was full of joy. But if we could go back and dare to do just one thing like returning a kiss, the memory would be even sweeter. You’ve sent me back daydreaming too…… a lovely post.

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    • If I could go back, I would kiss a lot more.

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  6. Well, nothing that unexpected happened in my life. College was a fun time, though. I remember the trunk that I used to pack up my clothes and then used as a coffee table/bedside table for many years….bright orange. And those moccasins! loved them. Nice memory trail here.

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    • I had a trunk! It was supposed to look like leather, but it was cardboard.

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  7. ah. the do over. I’d like a few of those.

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    • I would be so much braver. I missed so much by being shy and cautious.

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  8. Southerngal

    What a charming story. I remember those typewriter keys that would stick together…

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    • And trying to line up the paper to fix a typo. Yikes~!

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  9. you bring back some sweet memories for me-and some of my most contented years–I have a few sweet regrets like that too

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  10. I thought I hated college when I was there. The memories are always sweeter. Nice story.

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    • I loved it. I loved every second. Although I wish I hadn’t been so shy. I wish I had some raucous crazy memories now.

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      • I had maybe, two raucous crazy memories. But mostly I just wanted to graduate, get a job, and get married.
        Now I am wondering why I was in such a hurry….

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        • Oh, I was NOT in a hurry. I was an undergraduate for six years.

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  11. Ah … the do-over. If only I knew then what I definitely know now 🙂

    Lovely post,
    MJ

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    • Thanks MJ – I would certainly be less studious. All those A’s could have been B’s and I would have had a lot more fun!

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  12. This was so perfectly told Nancy, what a great do-over.

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    • Thanks… I don’t have very many regrets, but I do wish I had kissed that boy.

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  13. It’s perfect. I’m glad the Universe doesn’t allow do-overs. The story is perfect just the way it is and it would be spoiled if you could do it over. (Every act, or failure to act, changes the course of our lives–you would be living an entirely different life if you had kissed him.)

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    • You’re probably right. But what if…? Like what if he was RICH?

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  14. This is a wonderful “share”. There are a few of those “what if?” moments I’d like to have a do-over on. I suspect, if they are being honest, everyone has at least one.

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  15. Like you, I wish I had enjoyed school more while I was in the moment. I spent too much time worrying about my finances and my social life to truly experience it. I’d definitely do better if I got a do-over.

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  16. Wow! You took me back in time. Communal bathrooms, manual typewriter – everything but the kiss. If not for my wild and crazy roommate, I would have never loosened up and let my hair down. I was still shy and missed a lot of opportunities that would have shaped my life differently, I’m sure.
    I believe that I’m right where I belong now. Thanks for sharing your ‘do-over’!

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