REDEMPTION: salvation, rescue, liberation, deliverance, release.
(No, this isn’t about saving your soul or making amends…it’s about returning cans)
I know I go on about this all the time, but the simplest of things can trigger the best of memories. Smell, sound, action…I ran into it all this weekend. As we were heading home from vacation, I finally convinced my husband to stop at the redemption center and cash in the garbage bag of beer cans he’d accumulated. It was a feat let me tell you. It was as if returning the empties would take something away from the act of drinking the beer in the first place. In reality, I think it’s just a new concept to NH people.
Not for me. I grew up in Maine and it was old hat. Besides, it helped buy gas for my Chevette or beer for the weekend. So, I grabbed the bag of cans, strolled around the side of the BEVERAGE AND REDEMPTION CENTER and pushed open the door. Wow…The smell of stale beer, the clink of empty bottles being tossed from bag to box, the crunch of cans being artfully counted and sorted in one foul swoop. Ah…redemption. Suddenly, I was 17 years old back in Lewiston, half expecting that handsome, cocky boyfriend of mine to be there: feet on desk, smile on face, cigarette hanging out of the corner of his mouth. I tried very hard not to smile as the pudgy teen in front of me counted out my $3.85 worth of Bud Light cans and handed me a voucher. It lasted a total of perhaps two minutes, but for the rest of the day I was cast back 26 years.
What an odd name to give to the act: redemption. The same name we give to saving our soul is given to the return of bottles and cans for cash. I’m not sure how it’s rescue or salvation, but it was deliverance for me that day. A bit of a liberation from the ho-hum of daily life with a dive back to my past. One memory plays off another and soon I’m wondering where in the hell time went and when did I stop being a kid? When did I become this 40-something mom getting all misty-eyed over returning empty beer cans? Did I appreciate life then? I know I wanted to be older, wiser & liberated. Yet, my salvation comes from slipping back into memory more often than I should. I have never once considered myself one of those people who dread getting ‘old’, but right now I do. I wonder if it’s behind me now; if the best has come and gone and the only thing left to look forward to is being older, wiser and liberated.
The redemption center in Lewiston is gone, torn down and replaced by a parking lot. A new one took its place further up the road in a nicer building with easier access. It doesn’t matter. To me it’s still there, still busy, noisy, smelling of stale beer. To me it’s still 1984 and I’m anxious to embark on the whirl-wind journey of growing up with my whole life in front of me! I just wish I could just travel back and tell myself to stop! enjoy what surrounds me, and stop wishing it all away. All too soon it will be gone and I’ll be sitting here, wondering what in the hell happened.