Memories are Grape Jelly on the Ceiling

My parents’ house (the house I grew up in) contains many examples of the carelessness of youth. There are all the usual things: broken toys hidden so well they are still gathering dust undisturbed and  patches of walls or ceilings long since repaired that are apparent if you know where to look. But there are also remnant peculiar to my childhood, unique experiences not shared by others. I look at one of them every time I’m in that house.

To see it, you must first stand directly in front of their refrigerator. Then take a half step to the left, one full step backward, and look up. There is a strange grayish group of splotches on the popcorn ceiling. It’s what remains of the grape jelly I managed to spill there.

When I look at that spot, I’m eight again and putting ajar back in the fridge. Aided by the condensation it had formed on that warm summer day, the jar slipped from my fingers. It hit the floor and remained upright, but the lid popped off. Jelly splattered the floor, the fridge, and me. Fortunately, the jar had not cracked and I quickly cleaned up the mess. I calmed down after finally returning the jar until I looked up. Somehow, the jar had hit the floor with enough force to shoot a splotch of grape jelly up to the ceiling, tiny purple stalactites mocking my stature and inability to reach them. As there was no way for me to clean it, I resolved not to mention it and hope no one would notice. No one ever did. My family didn’t look up much.

That splotch remained very bright and very purple for a few days. The it began to darken, eventually drying up or being absorbed into the ceiling texture. It grew less obvious over the years, it’s contours changing slightly over time, finally becoming more of a suggestion that something might have happened there.

As I reflect on it, I realize that memories are grape jelly on the ceiling and they can fade. The experiences you believe will never dull lose their sheen with the years, become distorted slightly, and the details even fade until you can’t remember their importance. Staring at that spot reminds me how much I need to treasure all the moments I have and to expend the energy it takes to see all the details. At least then, even when memory fades, I just have to look for the marks they make on my life and let it all come rushing back.

© Leighton Brown and Stories Now Told, 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from Leighton Brown is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Leighton Brown and Stories Now Told with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. For more information, please see the Copyright page.

About leighton

I could be considered a true Renaissance Man after having a long and storied (seriously, people actually tell stories about it) college experience and varied careers. I am also a shameless self-promoter (who did you think was writing this anyway?) who is prone to flights of fancy, an abundance of passion on any given subject, ,obsessive behavior, spontaneous storytelling (whether anyone listens or not), and making parenthetical references. I would also be thrilled if I heard someone use the word "raconteur" to describe me.
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2 Responses to Memories are Grape Jelly on the Ceiling

  1. tulisha says:

    I really like the second paragraph and the word play of “spilling” grape jelly “up on the ceiling.”

    You said your family never looked up and noticed. Did you ever tell them? Are they going to read it on this site?

    • leighton says:

      You know, I can’t really remember if I ever got around to telling them or not. I hoping my three readers will keep the low profile so they can be surprised someday. 🙂

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