Yesterday I sat down and built a puzzle I haven't assembled in about, oh, thirty years or more. My original's been gone for about that long, lost to the ravages of time and moving, but I recently won the same set on eBay. It's a beaut and exactly as I remember it, a Batman jigsaw from the height of 60s Batmania. Colorful and goofy, it was one of my most favorite, right next to my Major Matt Mason puzzle.
As I sat on the floor of my studio room building my puzzle, it all came back to me. My hands moved of their own accord, putting piece with piece, as if the image was somehow ingrained in my fingers and they knew just how to assemble it. Capturing little bits of one's childhood can be a challenge as one gets older but the feeling as I built my puzzle yesterday, at the tender age of 44, was sweet. Maybe a tiny bit bittersweet, but worthwhile overall.
The Little Woman suggested I play a CD while I puzzled my way through my project and for some reason I chose the Monkees' "The Birds, the Bees and the Monkees." Then it struck me: this was an album that my father owned and played often. There was a very good chance that I was duplicating a convergence of sound and sensations from the late 60s/early 70s, of my young self building the exact same puzzle while listening to "PO Box 9847" and "Daydream Believer" in the background. It was a heady thought, full of a certain kind of magic. Fleeting but fulfilling.
Once I had completed my Batman puzzle I sat back and remembered certain things about the image that my young self once pondered. Why was the Penguin missing his trademark top hat? Why was Robin so inept at catching the wily bird? What would happen once Batman connected with his Baterang? Why did it look like the Caped Crusader was wearing socks?
I savored the image and the constructing thereof and then put the puzzle back in its box, piece by piece, dispensing with my childhood manner of impatiently picking up the entire things and "folding" it back in the box and ruining said pieces. No, I'm a bit wiser these days - though still youthful enough to appreciate the simple joy of building a puzzle. Holy Memorabilia!