I was reading a book this evening and a line jumped out at me, “Go back to the time of Popsicles, Lemonade and Sprinklers…”. It sounded like such a great idea that I closed my eyes and gave it a try.
I ended up visiting me at age 9. Mini me was me running up the three, long, wide concrete stairs that ascended a hill to the Projects where I grew up. My book bag jounced in time with the rhythm of my steps, and around me was a veritable wonderland of lush greenery and tall, towering trees. They formed an airy canopy, silent sentinels that watched over me as I grew.
Flash, and there I am running, then skipping home through the rain, trying to dodge the raindrops and avoid all the squishy earthworms who writhed to the surface to escape suffocation. Even then I was overly conscious and hateful of worms.
Flash, and I am hurtling towards Mr. Softee, whose jingle I love to this day. All other truck jingles bite as far as I am concerned. Fiending, I am standing on line, shifting from leg to leg, waiting for an Ice Cream Sandwich, or a Strawberry Shortcake. I also had a penchant for Pistachio Ice Cream, go figure, but that was saved for trips to Carvel. I pestered my Mom endlessly for Oreos, Twinkies and Dipsy Doodles, sugar and salt my drug of choice. I can almost taste the Sugar Babies now that I loved like an addict, caramel oozing and liquefying on my tongue.
Flash, and I am on the swings. My God, how I adored the swings. I could swing forever, trying to touch heaven and hit repeat. I liked to jump rope but could never get the timing right to jump in and so I was mercilessly tortured. I liked to play jacks and hopscotch and like a true, New York city kid, was always ready to run through a fire hydrant in the oppressive heat of Summer. The hectic pressure of the ice cold water jets hitting us, and some slow stupid kid getting tossed in with a chorus of screams was our idea of bliss.
Flash, and I am 12 or 13 away at a camp for a School trip sleepover. It’s nighttime and Mr. Goff, our English Teacher, tall, balding, with a grey beard just like a literate, lumberman is telling us a scary story. His voice and inflection will never be lost to me as it was the first time I remember a real live, male adult reading me a story. Even with the crowd of kids it seemed like he was reading just to me, and oh what a story, it was Edgar Allen Poe and wonderfully terrifying. We squealed in frightened delight at some parts and huddled together for warmth in riveted silence at others. Finally, my mind takes me to the YWCA on some overnight trip where me and my two best girlfriends are running through the huge, dark grey hallways, playing tag with a bunch of kids after lights out. There is nothing but buoyancy, the joy of discovery, laughter and light. Nothing but innocence, what a beautiful thing.
When I opened my eyes, I felt completely loose and at peace. All the tension was gone from my shoulders and neck, the exhaustion from a day spent gardening completely dissipated. It felt so good, if only for a moment, to be in touch with the girl who lives inside me again. She is just a heartbeat away.
Occasionally, between the bouts of cynicism brought on by adult life, heartfelt disappointments, bills, aggravation, losses in love, sickness and unanticipated troubles, it is helpful to have a mental escape route. Often, mine is a sandy beach, sloping to sparkling, turquoise and indigo seas, lush breezes and towering palm trees, my Mojito firmly in hand. And that rocks lol, but not like this. This was so much better, as I embraced a mental state that describes a part of my essence, induced by things loved and familiar and the unfolding possibilities of the world before me. It is good to know that I can resurrect her whenever I want. Her resurrection is like a shot of adrenaline, chased by rejuvenation…
P.S. – I still LOVE swings although I have to say that are not made for people with hips 🙂