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» Hatrack River Forum » Archives » Landmark Threads » Baby shoes and "deja vu": my 2500 landmark, I suppose.

   
Author Topic: Baby shoes and "deja vu": my 2500 landmark, I suppose.
ketchupqueen
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Okay, I know I said in a recent thread that I hadn’t posted a landmark thread yet and didn’t see myself doing it in the near future, but things change. We had a little landmark in our lives on Saturday, and it got me thinking about things, and since I was approaching 2500... You know. 2500 only comes once (or at least once per screen name), and it’s 1/4 of the way to 10,000, and it’s 100 posts for each year my husband has been alive, and whatever. I feel kind of pretentious posting a “landmark” thread when I feel so new to the community (and I am!), but it just seemed appropriate to have this thread be my 2500th post, so here goes.

----------------------------------------------

Last Saturday when Jeff got home from work, we gathered up all the gear you need to deal with a baby at night, got some socks on her, got in the car, and headed to the nearest Stride Rite for Emma’s first shoes. Emma shares my high instep, although her feet aren’t as wide as mine were as a child, so we had to go far out of our way to not only find Stride Rite shoes, but get to an actual Stride Rite store, where they have people with much experience in fitting strangely-shaped baby feet.

When we got there, the salespeople were extraordinarily helpful. They quickly found the sneakers we needed in Emma’s size (which didn’t turn out to be that weird at all, once she was fitted correctly and we found some wide-opening lace-up sneakers, since Stride Rite’s baby shoes are, surprisingly enough, baby-shaped, so they fit better), and they even pointed us to a pair of pretty dress sandals that were part of their “buy one, get one half off” sale—“if that’s a consideration for you”. (Of course it was; the sneakers cost $40! The other pair had darned well better be on sale!) Anyway, they got the sneakers on Emma once more to take a picture for us of her in her first pair of shoes, and as I saw her sitting there trying to figure out what these things were on her feet and why she couldn’t get them off, I was suddenly both full of emotion and disconnected at the same time. I felt a connection to my parents, and their parents, and far back to each parent who has watched their child grow up so quickly, many of them not as sure as we are that their children would live through the next five years. Even we can’t be sure, of course, but those five years of life used to be the most risky, at times with more than a quarter of all children not living through them. I felt a heart-wrenching ache and tears came to my eyes as I felt again the longing I have known since childhood, I don’t quite know for what.

It’s kind of a sense of “déjà vu”, this feeling, while at the same time homesickness, but not for my home, or even for where I grew up. It’s a feeling that I belong somewhere else, that I am simultaneously living my life and have lived it before, that I am connected somehow to all who have gone before and all that will come after me, and that I miss them. Of course, these words are a feeble attempt to describe something indescribable. The first time I sang the hymn “O My Father” (hymn no. 292 in the current LDS hymnal), the second half of verse 2 really resonated with me:

“Yet oft-times a secret something
Whispered “You’re a stranger here,”
And I felt that I had wandered
From a more exalted sphere.”

The first time I remember feeling this, I was 6 years old. I was standing on a rock by Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco, wearing a long-sleeved turtleneck dress and cable knit tights, taking in the chill breeze and fog, the smells of crab, clam, fish, and sourdough, and the sight of the sea before me. All of a sudden, I was overwhelmed by this feeling, and it was as if my father, my brother, and our friend Armando (okay my dad’s friend, but I think of him as mine, too) were not there with me. In fact, no one was there with me; I was at once surrounded by busy noises and activity and completely alone. I felt a connection to everyone who had ever stood there and looked out on the ocean, and it made my heart ache that I was there, then, and could not move back in time to be with them. There were other layers of feeling as well, but I was too young to identify them at the time.

Ever since, it’s happened on a regular basis. Some sensory experience or phrase in a book will trigger something in me, and I will suddenly be both myself and not myself, or, perhaps, myself and yearning not to be myself? I really can’t describe it, except as a homesickness for someplace I’ve never been, missing someone I’ve never met, wanting to get something back that I’ve never had. It’s both worst and best at Christmas; I’m almost guaranteed to feel that way at Christmas time, and yet the feeling is not as bad at Christmas; it’s modified with a feeling of joy and hope and reassurance. Perhaps that’s why I’m so fond of Christmas music, and listen to it all year long, especially when I am feeling down or lonely. Perhaps also that’s why my family accuses me of being “the Christmas Nazi”; I want things to be just right, and am upset when someone else’s wishes conflict with mine. I have banned my husband from singing “Twisted Christmas Carols” in my presence, because I inevitably blow up at him if he does.

While Christmas is the most predictable time for this to occur, it happens at other times, too. Sometimes something in Garrison Keillor’s voice as he gives us the “News from Lake Wobegon” inspires this longing in me; sometimes something in his voice convinces me that he knows something of it, too. When I used to walk to work every day, there was one spot on my walk where I would be arrested by a certain smell that I never quite identified, but which always brought these tears to my eyes. Often, a song will do it, although it’s unpredictable which song at which moment; sometimes, a song that I’ve heard a hundred times before will strike me in a certain moment, and I will be overcome. Sometimes it’s scenery as I look out the window in the car. Sometimes it’s a poem, a line in a story, or a verse of scripture. Sometimes it’s a visit to a historical site.

For all this, though, I am not upset that I have these feelings. I don’t want to “make them better”, as my husband sweetly wants to do for me. I’ve learned, over the years, to appreciate them. I am forced, at unpredictable times, to stop, breathe, and think of others who have been where I am, whether physically, emotionally, or spiritually. I have to appreciate the moment, the precious nature of each second of life. I know that even if I lose my daughter, she will be mine forever now, because I loved her. The memories I formed as a child will always be mine to keep, a refuge when things are not as I wish them in my life. I will follow in the footsteps of those who have gone before, and lead the way for those who will come after, as each person has done since the beginning. Now I understand, though, why people used to bronze baby shoes.

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Belle
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quote:
have to appreciate the moment, the precious nature of each second of life. I know that even if I lose my daughter, she will be mine forever now, because I loved her. The memories I formed as a child will always be mine to keep, a refuge when things are not as I wish them in my life. I will follow in the footsteps of those who have gone before, and lead the way for those who will come after, as each person has done since the beginning.
That was absolutely, positively beautiful.

Thanks for sharing - and I mean that sincerely.

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Lady Jane
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Aw, Ketch, that was beautiful. [Smile] [Smile]

O My Father was my mom's favorite hymn.

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Raia
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KQ, I am so glad you're here. That was such a beautiful post. Thank you. Really, thank you. Please, stay... I always find your posts enlightening, and a joy to read. [Smile]
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ketchupqueen
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Don't worry Raia, I don't intend to go anywhere any time soon. [Smile] (Except WenchCon. [Wink] )

Thanks, everyone.

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pajeba
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That was wonderful.
[Smile]

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Space Opera
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Nice landmark! It made me immediately think of this poem, written by The Guy Who Got It.

"There Was a Child Went Forth"
Walt Whitman

There was a child who went forth everyday,
And the first object that he look'd upon, that object he became,
And that object became part of him for the day or a certain part of the day,
Or for many years or stretching cycles of years.

The early lilacs became part of this child,
And grass and white and red morning-glories, and white and red clover, and the song of the phoebe-bird,
And the Third-month lambs and the sow's pink-faint litter, and the mare's foal and the cow's calf,
And the noisy brood of the barnyard or by the mire of the pond-side,
And the fish suspending themselves so curiously below there, and the beautiful curious liquid,
And the water-plants with their graceful flat heads, all became part of him.
The field-sprouts of Fourth-month and Fifth-month became part of him,
Winter-grain sprouts and those of the light-yellow corn, and the esculent roots of the garden,
And the apple-trees cover'd with blossoms and the fruit afterward, and wood-berries, and the commonest of weeds by the road,
And the old drunkard staggering home from the outhouse of the tavern whence he had lately risen,
And the schoolmistress that pass'd on her way to the school,
And the friendly boys that pass'd, and the quarrelsome boys,
And the tidy and fresh-cheek'd girls, and the barefoot negro boy and girl,
And all the changes of the city and country wherever he went.

His own parents, he that had father'd him and she that had conceiv'd him in her womb and birth'd him,
They gave this child more of themselves than that,
They gave him afterward every day, they became part of him.

The mother at home quietly placing the dishes on the supper-table,
the mother with mild words, clean her cap and gown, a wholesome odor falling off her person and clothes as she walks by.
The father, strong, self-sufficient, manly, mean, anger'd, unjust,
The blow, the quick loud word, the tight bargain, the crafty lure,
The family usages, the language, the company, the furniture, the yearning and swelling heart,
Affection that will not be gainsay'd, the sense of what is real, the thought if after all it should prove unreal,
The doubts of day-time and the doubts of night-time, the curious whether and how,
Whether that which appears so is so, or is it all flashes and specks?
Men and women crowding fast in the streets, if they are not flashes and specks what are they?

The streets themselves and the facades of houses, and goods in the windows,
Vehicles, teams, the heavy-plank'd wharves, the huge crossing at the ferries,
The village on the highland seen from afar at sunset, the river between,
Shadows, aureola and mist, the light falling on roofs and gables or white or brown two miles off,
The schooner near by sleepily dropping down the tide, the little boat slack-tow'd astern,
The hurrying tumbling waves, quick-broken crests, slapping,
The strata of color'd clouds, the long bar of maroon-tint away solitary by itself,
the spread of purity it lies motionless in,
The horizon's edge, the flying sea-crow, the fragrance of salt marsh and shore mud,
These became part of that child who went forth every day, and who now goes, and will always go forth every day.

space opera

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ketchupqueen
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Wow, it's been so long since I read Whitman, I'd forgotten that poem. Thank you, it's beautiful. [Smile]
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beverly
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KQ, thank you for the deeply profound thoughts, and helping us to catch a glimpse of the feeling of connectedness that you experience. [Smile]

If I were to put a word to what you describe, it would be the Portuguese word: saudade.

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ketchupqueen
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I had to look that up, but oh my gosh, yes! That is almost exactly it! I wonder why the Portugese have a word for it, while English doesn't.
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ketchupqueen
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Oh, and I suppose this reinforces my theory that you can experience an emotion or state of being even if your culture has no word for it.
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beverly
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I think the closest English equivalent is "nostalgia". But it isn't quite the same. My husband (who served a mission in Brazil) has what can only be described as saudades for the word "saudade". [Smile] He discovered a little while ago that it has origins with Portuguese explorers who would sail off into the big world and sorely miss all that they had left behind. It grew from there.
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ketchupqueen
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Exactly! I have what would be nostalgia if I had ever experienced what I have nostalgia for, but I don't even know what my nostalgia is for! I have described it just that way a couple of times. Thank you for the word! Can I have a pronunciation? I am going to make it mine!
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twinky
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[Smile]
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Olivetta
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lovely.

*awe*

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beverly
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It is pronounced "sou-da-jee". The "ou" like in "ouch". A very useful word, at least in our household. [Smile]
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ketchupqueen
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Thank you. I think that's going to become our "code word" for when I'm crying because of that, and not because of anything my husband needs to do anything about. [Smile]
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ClaudiaTherese
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ketchupqueen, how absolutely lovely. You capture the feeling so well in words that I can almost feel it with you.
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ketchupqueen
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Thank you. [Smile]
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Corwin
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Hey, are you sure you're not Bene Gesserit or something like that?! [Big Grin]

Nice landmark, by the way! And I hope those feeling never get "made better". They're part of who you are, and they seem something so wonderful it would be a shame to lose them...

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beverly
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Corwin, I also thought of the genetic memory described in Frank Herbert's books. [Big Grin]
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Annie
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Wow, that was amazingly poetic. [Smile] Thanks for your friendship and your insight. I'm pretty sure you're my long lost secret twin.

Love ya, sister [Smile]

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sndrake
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That was really quite beautiful. I love the idea that feelings of sadness, longing and other emotions shouldn't necessarily be shoved down or "dealt with." I think that's part of what being human is supposed to be, at least some of the time.

Visiting those emotions and states are a different thing than living in them.

Thank you.

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Amka
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Thank you, kq. That brought me right back to a memory I have as a child. I remember walking down the street of our neighborhood that was so new, most of the houses hadn't been built. There was a field of weeds on the one side, the sky was blue with white puffy clouds and I was alone. Suddenly, I looked around and realized, "I'm here! I'm finally here!". I was excited and sad all at the same time.
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Elizabeth
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"I was suddenly both full of emotion and disconnected at the same time. I felt a connection to my parents, and their parents, and far back to each parent who has watched their child grow up so quickly,"

KQ, I felt something like this when I had my first child. I could feel an almost physical presence of women in my line, going back and back, and I was a part of it, not the end of that line. I will never forget that feeling.

Thanks for sharing.

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Dead_Horse
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Very cool....
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punwit
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Beautifully penned kq. I've had moments of similar clarity and I'm usually shaken by the poingnant nature of the feeling, like I'm in tune with everyone before and after me that have/will have that exact thought or image or feeling. It is very powerful and you've done a super job of sharing it with us. Thank you!
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tt&t
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[Smile] [Smile]
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rivka
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How very lovely. [Smile] Beautiful landmark, kq.

Congrats on the shoes, and the posts. [Wink]

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Morbo
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Great landmark. I'm looking foreward to meeting you and the Princess at Wenchcon. I'm asking around about where to find a mug or glass for a souvenir.
quote:
I really can’t describe it, except as a homesickness for someplace I’ve never been, missing someone I’ve never met, wanting to get something back that I’ve never had.
Nice. Reminded me of a short story by a British writer, who had a vivid daydream about kids he had never had, and never would. [Frown]
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Morbo
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Also, the French have parsed "deju vu" to a fare-thee-well.
This google answerer earned her $2 recounting this:
http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview?id=207385

Some of these emotions are considered pathological, but I don't think that applies to you, kq. [Smile]

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Hobbes
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[Group Hug]

Hobbes [Smile]

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ketchupqueen
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Well, I'm glad you don't think it's pathological, Morbo. That's a load off my mind. [Wink]
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Astaril
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I've felt *exactly* that! Exactly! And found few who have. I've...trained? myself to get it more often now somehow - it is somewhat 'painful' I suppose, but so beautiful to be worth it - though it's not something that can be forced. It's mostly trees/nature and the sky (and other various surprising aspects of being part of the ever-changing world) that trigger it in me. It's like you can watch Time pass without participating for a split second. But why am I describing it? You already have, quite aptly.

I might suggest reading Surprised by Joy by C.S. Lewis. It's entirely based on describing just that feeling, which he calls Joy (capitalised). Interesting book.

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Lucky4
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KQ, that was beautiful. The content was a joy to connect with, and the style was enchanting. Thank you so much.

And by the way, I don't think of you as being new at all. I think it's because you are one of those really neat people who become so vital to the community so quickly that it feels like you were always there.

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ketchupqueen
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[Blushing] I'm flattered, really.

And it's so neat to hear that others have experienced this. [Smile]

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Derrell
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That was a beautiful landmark.
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Lisha-princess
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That was beautiful, kp.

(I'm a Christmas Nazi too [Smile] )

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