I found my old pez dispenser today, I held it in my hand, as years of memories sifted through my mind like sand. I don’t remember why I thought this thing was so cool but clearly owning one was an asset in elementary school. The candy was sub-par but the way it dispersed through the small opening with a flick of the finger was exquisite. That little guy held my status for several years (I cringe when I consider how often I have to replace my iPhone to keep current), then in junior high I moved onto the bic lighter, and old pez was left behind in the dresser drawer.
Oh how untouchable was I? I carried that thing around in my pocket like hard earned cash and whipped it out when I needed to impress myself. I loved how I could adjust the flame. I had total control. This item was considered contraband in my house so I had to hide it from my parents. I remember waving my bic lighter, flame extended, along with thousands of cheering fans at the Peter Frampton concert, sometime in the late 70’s. I realize they do this with cell phones now but it’s not the same.
It was our church, the whole stadium lite up, bodies waving in unison, music blaring, and I knew I belonged to something much bigger than myself. A week later as I walked home from my girlfriends house late one night, I was flicking my bic all the way down the street, until I ran into my parents out for an evening stroll. Shit. They confiscated my beloved object on the corner of Flamingo and Bent, cried myself to sleep, bought another one the next day. Told all my friends how uncool my parents were and how unjust the world. I was indignant at the fragility of my status.
The nostalgia is so strong it’s a feral presence in the room, forty years have magically compressed like an accordion, and I find myself standing beside this resilient young girl. I vaguely remember my unencountered self, no limits, no restraints, no regrets. On some level I realize objects don’t define me but sometimes I still act like they do. I think I’ll go buy a bic tomorrow as a gentle reminder of the girl I once was and the woman I hope to become. It’s not easy living in the gap.
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