“what do you like about your childhood?”

6 Feb

When I was very little, 4, maybe 5, my bedroom faced the river. I couldn’t see it from my window-all I could see were the rundown backs of the downtown strip, all dirty wood and spotlights, gravel driveways and the detrius of the drunks of the night before. But the sun would rise in my window, without fail every morning.

I was terrified.

When the sun rose each morning that summer, it filled my room with shades of gold, amber, oxblood. My heart would seize as I stared into the glare through the cheap pane glass, replaced only that summer because of my stupidity. Screaming, I’d summon my mother, who would stare blankly, kinda annoyed, from the window to me, sitting up in my bed, bawling.

“Mom! the world-it’s on fire!”

****************************

In many respects, I had an idyllic childhood. I spent hours in the backyard, creating kingdoms and fairy tales and stories of women kicking ass. My mother stayed home when I was younger, bringing money to the household as a tailor. The sound of her sewing machine routinely filled the house, hemming pants and darting skirts.

She was always there. Even when she went back to working outside the home, she was only behind the house. I could have stayed home, but I preferred to sit in the flowershop with her, watching entranced as she colored carnations green for St Paddy’s Day, arranged flowers for funerals, soaked the Oasis in water, let me touch the Venus Fly Traps.

My memories of my father are tied up in the little things as well-walking to the store so he could check the door. Riding on his shoulders , on a warm easter morning-one of those mornings that remind you it was worth waiting through winter for Spring, me in my tiny white sandals, him complaining that his back hurt.

I never rode on his shoulders again.

What I love about my childhood is that no matter what else was going on, my sense of home is a sense of safety. In my memories, our home was always full of light, but it’s not light.

It was love.

We weren’t, and still aren’t a touchy feeling talky family. (With the exception of me apparently) Sure there were bear hugs and beard rubs at night before bed, but I don’t have any vivid memories of the words ‘I love you” being spoken. And yet, my childhood memories spill over with love, and security and hope. All the best things you want for your children.

My memories of my parents as a couple are especially bittersweet. Knowing they were happy-happier than the parents of many of my friends, and yet losing each other. It makes the memories hard sometimes, and then, I am grateful they are few and far between.

I love remembering a time when I was just happy. Not confused, not upset, happy. Safe and secure, and totally unaware of what was to come. That my parents could do this for me is a wonderful gift, and the memories are held in reserve for the days that aren’t so good. So I have a safe place to land.

***************************

“It’s not on fire.” she said, “It’s just the sun, rising to say good morning.”

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2 Responses to ““what do you like about your childhood?””

  1. Dragon February 6, 2008 at 12:22 pm #

    This is simply beautiful.

  2. Julie Pippert February 6, 2008 at 1:28 pm #

    Oh.

    Beautifully bittersweet.

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