Why should I write to you or about you? Why should anyone think about it, wonder, or care?
We adults have one thing universally in common. We were once children. That is the one thing we can all agree upon, no matter who or where or when we are.
We had childhoods, good or bad. And we remember them, at least in part.
There is, for each one of us, a scrap of that other “culture” once experienced—the freewheeling need to play; the longing for peer approval and AGONY of not getting said approval; the startling, fascinating, and terrifying changes in body and spirit; the eternal NOW shifting to meet evolving and devolving goalposts, worries, obligations, chores, and roles, joys, pains, challenges, and expectations.
Writing about YOU, my own personal childhood, has the potential to bring me there again (or keep me away?). Writing provides space in which to admire and wonder at a person we have always known and yet at times don’t recognize or understand.
Oh, and reading one’s childhood musings gifts us with a unique time capsule.
These musings are moments captured like a flower dried in a jar. They are lost feelings best recalled through sensory details. They are bridges from the past to the future.
And a bittersweet tickle of the funny bone…
With all this in mind and at heart, I share in this blog a few snippets of my own childhood. They are salvaged from an old piece of artwork found in my parents’ memorabilia, from old diaries and notebooks (with some writing in teeny tiny smudged print).
But before I begin, let me say that in two weeks one of my dearest childhood friends will be visiting, which got me thinking in the first place. This friend and I…well, we threw ravioli at each other in a long-ago and faraway 7th grade cafeteria. We gleefully cut out of school and hung out at the railroad tracks.
Now, in different states and decades—and yes, millennium—we live as mature women (barely). What a perfect time for a time capsule:
From a Mother’s Day autobiography gift:
“On a bright, sunny morning in August, on our peaceful street in Plainview, there was a terrific wail from the kitchen. It was none other than me, Reina Menasche. I was small, and wrinkled as I screamed for my breakfast. I was born exactly two weeks ago and I was named after my great-grandmother…Days past quickly for me. All I did was eat, sleep and cry. Sometimes people would come over and speak to me. Years passed soon I was three. I had a boy friend named Jeffery. I also had a girl friend named Carry. We had lots of fun together and soon I was four. That led to trouble…Later that day I decided to go in the back to play with Lassie. Lassie was our dog. She was a beautiful collie. I looked outside to see if Lassie was there but she wasn’t. Lassie came behind me and gave me a good push. I fell down hard on the steps outside. I screamed. My mother came running. I was lying at the bottom step. I was bleeding. My family took care of me and soon I was better. The next year past quickly for me and soon I was five, I was very busy because I went to two kindergardens…”
From elementary school diaries:
“It is Halloween And I am going to be a witch. We went around the whole area. I got lots of candy.”
“It is Ann’s birthday. She got 2 pairs of earings. She is getting a polaroy camra. I am sick I have a bad cold…”
“I could not find Laurie’s Francie for an hour! For that I can’t play with her ever again. I HATE HER.”
“Today I went to my cousin’s wedding. It was good, especially when they kissed. Joyce was a beautiful bride. Her husband is cute…Tonight I’m sleeping over Jane’s house. I always have fun at her house. We’ll have a panic!”
“I have a dumb old cold. I’m waiting for J.M. letters. I might write another. The creep!”
From a childhood “Slam Book” (favorite things listed)
FAVORITE color: yellow; Sport: swimming & softball; hair color: blonde or jet black; eyes: green; jewelry: ID bracelet; cat: Siamese; hour of the day: 3:05 pm; food: LAMB CHOPS; dessert: Snack Pack; Favorite place to go near home: Old Mill; favorite type of clothes to wear: shorts & top; gift: stuffed animal; uncommon animal: penguin; magazines: Jack and Jill & Teen; ambition: actress & writer
From high school diaries:
“Hi! I’ve been reading old diaries and I realized that some day I’ll want to remember my senior year and I’ll have nothing ‘cos I’m too lazy to write. So, I’m dedicated again. Hi, Diary. It’s been so long. It seems like forever. Oh God, I’ve really grown up these past few months. I’ve been hurt and resolved my pain. I made new friends and got closer to Sue, San, ect. School sucks. It’s got a pain-in-the-ass cut system that’s driving me crazy. I even got called down to the office for being late to homeroom. The office is threatening me for cutting study hall of all idiotic reasons. I’ve been working my ass off trying to keep up with Schiavo’s sadism for honors. Would cut but Mr. Schiavo is a pisser, and he’s so little and cute…”
“We will never see this year again. It is now a memory. Well, I’m in an OK mood. I’m in preparation for tonight. My gown is all ready and ironed and my hair is washed and dried on big rollers. My nose is still stopped up but I don’t care anymore. I haven’t budged from the house in 5 days and I still haven’t killed the Bug. So if you can’t kill it, welcome it, I always say…”
“It is a three ring circus. Ted, Renz and Joe likes Irene, Irene, Lauren, and I like Joe. Monica likes Ted. It’s really mixed up…”
“Well Summer’s here. It bumped right on time. Another dream wilted in my face, and inside I’m dying to cry, I’m dying to stop hurting, I’m dying not to care, I’m dying to find myself capable of love and I’m dying never to reach out again…”
And college age:
“So it’s cold outside here in the hallway of this dirty railroad station. I keep drinking hot tea because the inside of this place is smokey and stuffy and also, I can watch all the people. I don’t want to pick up all my luggage, not even to move five feet. I am tempted to get my sweater though; however, five inches also seems pretty far. I am tired, numb, and my throat feels coated and yucky from the tea. “Endless Love” is playing. My love for my parents, my family, my house that I’ll never see again—not as my home anyway. It hurt to say goodbye. I am too tired and overwhelmed to comprehend what I am doing here. Some guy just came up to me, mumbled something incomprehensible, and took my chair. So far, the nicest thing was talking to this guy from Holland. Actually, he talked to me. Came up to me and started talking in good English. Spoke five languages like that weird guy on the plane. Said time was going quickly because he was having a good time (talking to me). Oh well, nothing else profound to say. Time is dragging, unlike my precious, hectic week at home with my precious, hectic family. On two hours sleep these are the extent of my philosophies…”
Oh, and one last thought I would like to share:
It is completely ordinary, my story. But in telling these ordinary stories, the extraordinary comes home to roost.
Welcome home, childhood. I’ve missed you.