Friday, August 23, 2013


I've been thinking a lot about my childhood lately. Partly, because I watched a documentary on Beyonce where she describes running through weeping willows in her front yard. Mostly, though, it's because Simon is growing up, and I want to give him the kind of childhood that he likes to remember.

When I think of my childhood, I remember exploring my grandparents' farmland. My cousins and I played [lackluster] tennis, and each time we'd have a bad serve, the fuzzy neon ball would go catapulting over the fence, into the cow pasture. We would climb over the fence, careful to avoid splinters and the electric wire that ran along the inside of it, and when we hopped over we'd stand victoriously, overlooking the green field, but only for a second, because we knew we had to sprint as fast as our legs could carry us to grab the ball before we were charged by a bull.

I remember wishing I was a mermaid. I loved to swim in the pool with a snorkel, because I loved the idea of staying in the water forever. I liked the way it felt to have my hair billow weightlessly around my face. I would only get out of the pool when my mom made me re-apply sunscreen or when it was time for lunch, which was always a lebanon bolonga sandwich with miracle whip on white bread and strawberries dipped in sugar. Then there was always tea. Sweet tea, of course. There was no other option growing up in the south.

I remember wanting to be outside all the time. I remember the feeling of wanting to "run the day to its kness" as Rita Dove would say. I loved sleeping at my grandparents' house, because they live by a highway, and when the trucks drove by, the sound came in waves. I fell asleep to the white noise of tires as they whirred along the interstate. The "adults" stayed up late and talked in the family room right outside the door, and I remember feeling comforted by their voices and the light that leaked underneath the door frame.

I think if there's one thing I'm most thankful for in my childhood, it's that I always felt safe. Even when the bull stood off in the distance, staring us down. I felt safe, because I wasn't afraid. I believed I could outrun that bull. I felt safe, but I never had to think about it.

 Now, I feel safe when our house alarm is on, or when the weather doesn't threaten us or when I don't have to drive on unfamiliar roads. I sometimes feel like I have to manufacture my own safety, so it doesn't feel Safety isn't as comforting when you have to create it for yourself, and especially not when you're responsible for someone else's, like I am now, all day, each day.

I know in my mind that I'm supposed to trust God with my safety. And I do, sometimes. But sometimes, it's not all the way. Sometimes I wish I could fall asleep to the sounds of someone who stayed up after me, then I remember that God doesn't sleep or even need sleep. I go in and out, I guess. Yes, I trust you. No, I don't quite today.

The best part of my childhood was not ever having to go back-and-forth. I always felt safe. I want that for Simon.

What do you remember about childhood? Is there one word that could sum it up?



1 comment:

  1. I miss that heady sense of invincibility as a tree-climbing, tunnel-digging grubby little boy in the backyard. I feel like adult reality often snips that out of life. But I love the way you paint your childhood, long summer days of iced tea and running with/from the bulls. I have a feeling Simon will get all that and more.