Summer in Lafayette, La.
I was 6 and 3/4 years old.
My friends had Kiss lunch boxes and Grease records. I was allowed neither. In my house, we listened to Willie Nelson or Fats Domino and endured lectures as to why they were superior to boys who wore makeup or filthy movies who used the "S" word. My parents never said what the "S" word was, which left me in a quandry and led me to our giant dictionary in the wood paneled bookshelf. Was it "superfluous"? "Sundry"? "Scandalous"? So many choices.
I suppose that I have them to blame (or to thank) for what followed. That summer, with that dictionary, words became magical to me. They gave me a foothold into places that others weren't allowed. I figured that if I "kept" a word, it became mine and mine alone. So, I collected them like other kids collected pet rocks or stray bird feathers, scouring anything with type on it for a new one to add to my secret stash that I kept hidden in my piggy bank.
Only three people knew about my words. My blonde cocker spaniel, Chippie, and my two imaginary friends who lived in the swing set in my backyard. Sadly, their names escape me now, but we spent hours telling each other stories, drinking lemonade, and seeing how brave we could be by swinging as high as possible before leaping off the seat. Each day, I would bring out the new words I'd learned and we'd roll them around on our tongues and in our heads, making things up along the way. We called our time together "rememborating". One part remembering. One part celebrating. One part collaborating. Not that I knew that at the time, of course. I was clever, but I wasn't that precocious for God's sake.
That year our house was burglarized. We came home from church and the sliding glass door was shattered. I remember turning the corner to my room and seeing all of my toys scattered and my drawers overturned. The thieves had smashed my piggy bank looking for cash. All they found were my words. They left them crumpled up on the dresser, but in more ways than one, they stole those too.
I don't know if it was that particular event or not, but I don't remember "rememborating" after that day. Soon after the robbery, we sold that house and moved away. Chippie went to live with my aunt and I never heard from my swing set friends again.
I know I'm not alone. We all face things, both large and small, that pull us away from innocence and playfulness and childhood. Divorce, trauma, body issues, school issues, issues about issues, you name it. Life throws some serious shite our way. Some of us are somehow able to keep that brilliant kid-part of ourselves alive. See Owen and Jodi Egerton for more details. But mine got buried. That kid part of me who used to love words and make believe and swing sets got trapped beneath the weight of fear and insecurity.
I like blogging. There. I said it. I also like drawing and painting and taking pictures and traveling and being with friends and laughing and feeling grass under my feet. I'm 47 years old and I'm tired of being scared of what might happen if I fail or if I succeed. I'm ready to jump off the swing and get back to playing with words.
This girl is ready to find that girl and her imaginary friends again. Wanna play?