Wednesday, March 13, 2013

My Childhood Memories

Spring always makes me nostalgic for my childhood. I'm not sure why that is, since most of what I remember occurred in the summer and fall, but yesterday, as I was driving past a few local farms, I couldn't help but think of my past. It smelled like my childhood --dark, fresh soil, newly melted snow, horses and cows, sunshine on the trees, excitement for clear roads (so the bikes can come out and the children start playing, ignoring the biting cold wind because look! There's sunshine! Grass! Spring is coming!).

My childhood was idyllic. Was this because I remember it as so, or because it simply was? It's amazing to me how clearly I can see the street, my neighbor's house, the bus stop, my elementary school --and even the people who influenced my small circle. 

I remember running around with Darryl (my brother) and Ben, chasing them through Ben's backyard, over creeks, crawling through empty ditches, climbing trees, and imagining all kinds of adventures. We discovered slugs on the tree near the Tanner's house, we found baby mice in the old shed, we hid in lilac bushes and created worlds only seen by our imaginations...

I remember riding bikes with Brenda, chasing Matt and Darryl down the hill, zooming onto Brenda's street without worry of cars or people. We would bike around the "dirt hills" (now covered with new houses), excited about new jumps we created and finding "fossils" in the dirt (I think they were cement pieces or cow bones). 

Brenda's backyard was wonderful! A trampoline, old bricks we would make into houses, an old truck camper shell we would hide under during thunderstorms, a garden that melded into the dirt hills. Her brothers would all tease me because my olive skin would tan so dark in the summer; they called me "Indian" (not PC, I know). 

Jill and Stephanie, Christy and Tawna, Brenda, Ben, Ruth, babysitting for the Averys and the Pearsons... Life on Pearl was a joy. Clifford would play "deer and hunter" with us, we'd play football in the street with the Wrays. Piano lessons at the Fifes, sleepovers at the Watkins, basketball with the Hoffs, and the annual ward party at the Tanners, complete with a barbeque and an irrigated lawn. 

Stephanie and I would play for hours in her yard, climbing trees, playing kick-the-can, shelling peanuts, playing the piano, singing on the deck, splashing in the irrigated lawn, baking cookies, and watching her father in the garden. 

Brenda and I would walk home from church each week, cutting through the apartments and past the ditch, down to the "big hill" --the one we would zoom down on our bikes every day after school.

Tawna and Christy taught me about Debbie Gibson, Janice introduced me to Tiffany. I think it was Jill's mom who told me all about Whitney Houston. My first encounter with a real "crush" occurred in the fourth grade as I kept hearing, "I get lost... in your eyes..." over and over and over as I stared at the cute boy (poor guy! Although I don't think he ever knew, thank goodness!).

We would ride our bikes to Airport park and explore the canals, the tanks, and play on the playgrounds. The bus stop was on Airport road, and we'd walk there in freezing cold and blistering heat at least 30 minutes early so we could play hide-and-seek, explore, and compare boondoggle keychains (which my brother made for money) with the other kids.

I remember eating gooseberries from the neighbors' yard, weeding our tomato garden, and when my parents put in a deck, I was so scared of spiders that I refused to go under it much.

And the Fair! It was only a block away from our house, and so we would go every year. We would fall asleep listening to the distant hum and music of people eating, laughing, and I couldn't wait until I was old enough to go with my friends on "wristband day" without any parents hovering.

Oh, sure, there were times when I fell off my bike and scraped up my knees, when I witnessed (in horror) as Stacy broke her arm in front of me (she fell off her bike), when my brother was bullied, and when there was a neighborhood feud about whether or not so-and-so's son shot so-and-so's cat, but really, it was a great neighborhood. We had friends, we felt safe.

When I was 14 years old, my family moved just another ward away (but still pretty far in comparison). That's when those days began to fade and change. The timing almost felt perfect, since I was leaving my childhood behind emotionally, it was kind of nice to do it physically as well. All of those games in the ditches and climbing trees made way for high school, mascara, and boyfriends. Luckily, my hometown was small enough that those relationships were able to endure, and some of them have endured for more than twenty years! But best of all is that I have those idyllic memories for eternity.

How was your childhood? Do you remember much? What do you remember?


Stephanie said...

I think our childhoods WERE idyllic. We had parents who loved us, good friends to play with, and fun and safe neighborhoods to do it in. It wasn't until I was in college that I realized not everyone gets that in their life.

I can't help but wonder who that first crush was, though. :)

Ruth said...

How delightful. Thanks for the lovely walk down memory lane. I sure love you and the fact that we grew up together.

Ruth said...
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