Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Pondering bellybutton lint??

Ok, my only excuse for the title is that I am still heavily drugged, but feeling MUCH BETTER :) At least it got your attention! I couldn't figure out how to title this one.

I miss things. Mostly, I miss being able to give my daughter and son things I got. Meaning, unfortunately, times change. Sometimes for the better. Sometimes for the worse. But change is one of those constants in the universe. So, from time to time, I miss things.

I miss being able to sit on a hassock between my grandfathers legs, eating peanuts and watching Hee Haw. I had no clue what the show was about. I just enjoyed his company.

I miss me and my friends riding our Sears bikes (mine was purple with a big banana seat and sissy bar) up the railroad tracks on days off from school. We'd ride for miles, and hours. As long as we were home by dinner, life was good. Margaret, my babysitter and housekeeper, taught me how to REALLY enjoy a peanut butter, banana and mayonaise sandwich. I still eat them. I know - sounds gross, but damn they are tasty.

I miss the exploring we did. My friends and I found an old foundation of a house, with pottery and plates and stuff all over. While we were poking around, we noticed 4 headstones in a little family graveyard. At the time, the most recent date on them was 1790-something. I'll bet they aren't even there now, either moved or under some damn apartment house. I hope it's haunted.

I miss knowing everyone on my block. Mrs. Cheatham next door, Mrs. Brown down at the end. Mrs. Coombs at the other end. Mrs. Sedbury across the street. Mrs. Leavy down the road aways. I can tell you with great alacrity that they had no compuncton with paddling my arse if I did something out of line. And then, they would tell Margaret. Who would whoop my butt. Who would then tell Mom. You get the idea. The end result is, for the most part, I didn't do anything that would get me in trouble. It was just better that way.

I miss going to the pond with my old Zebco and some 10-cent tackle and a loaf of bread on Saturdays and just sit and fish. We'd take the white bread, squish it down until it made a little triangle about a quarter of an inch on each side, and then stick that on our penny Eagle Claw hook. With that, I got perch, bluegill, crappie, bass, and the occasional wandering catfish. I'd let 'em go though. I never developed a taste for fish... so I never kept anything that I couldn't eat. Figured I'd leave it there for the next fellah to catch, and then HE could eat. No one ever even asked why I was by the pond. They'd just wave. I felt a bit like Tom Sawyer.

I miss coming home from school. Sounds a bit funny, but there's a bit to that. Margaret (from above) was a HUGE black lady. Every day I would come home from school, and she was usually ironing or something. She'd yell out "HEY THERE CHILD!" and open up those huge, loving arms. I'd run as fast as I could, jump up on a hassock with the running start, and almost always get high enough to get a GREAT hug. Sometimes, I'd bounce off. I am sure, nowadays, you couldn't do that.... but back then it was the only thing keeping me from being a latchkey kid. I was in Heaven. By now I am sure Margaret is up there, shaking her head at me and telling me I'll do just fine. Just like she always did.

I miss my Dad. I never really got a chance to know my Dad until I was in High School. I moved in with him in Jan of 1978, in the middle of my Freshman year. After a bumpy start (my fault, not his) we got along pretty good. Then as adults, although we were often apart, we'd write. He passed away right after his birthday in 1990. I still talk to him, but I hate not getting answers back. His answers I could always take to the bank.

I miss camping in the Shenandoah National Park. Trust me. If you haven't ever been there, go in the fall. First part of October is the best. Fresh pressed apple cider in Front Royal, black bears near Big Meadows Camping area. COLD and crisp mornings, beautiful warm days. The combination of the autumn sunlight and the colors of the trees in autumn make it look like the whole valley is in fire with color.

Every time I think of that, I feel young. I don't know why, maybe it has something to do with the rebirth of the valley every spring, and this is the portent of it. Maybe it is just because true beauty always makes you feel young. My wife has that quality. Some of my friends do. But most are old, cranky, Walter Matthau souls. Ick.

Parts of my life have been a blessing. My wife (of almost 14 years now) is one. My children. Some friends acquired along the way. Some new friends. I always have room for more friends. But, parts of my life have been a curse. Looking back, it was often me that created the curse to begin with. Once or twice it wasn't under my control, but everything since I was 18 has been. OOPS. But I am getting better. Besides, my daughter tells me not to curse. So there. I guess I've been told.

I wish I could give my children the feeling of relative safety that made it ok to go and explore. To go and play. It isn't that things were better then, just different. There were still pervs out there, but anyone on the block would be more than happy to snap their necks if they came near any of the children. It didn't matter if it was your kid or th next block down. You came too close, and mothers for houses would swoop down like a bluejay when you get too close to a nest. (Trust me... that's a bad thing.)

I am afraid. Sometimes, I am afraid that I have become too jaded and cynical. Sometimes, I am afraid that I am not cynical enough. And, sometimes I am just afraid that when I leave this world, I will no longer exist. The sum total of all that is me will vanish... never to be seen or heard from again.

This all usually passes, since I do believe in God. My particular God (with the big G) is the father of the Christ. However, I can't help but sometimes wonder if, every now and then, God isn't just a bit like the one in the movie Oh God. You know, where he's answering all the questions written in aramaic. I won't go into details, (This is NOT a religious-themed blog, just my personal musings), but sometimes I just wonder.

I tend to get long winded, and frankly, I shouldn't blog when taking cold meds. I sound a bit sophomoric when I do. My Dad made me look up sophomoric in the dictionary. Note definition 2. Gave me a whole new outlook on where I was. Click on the word, and it'll tell you what I found.

Until our next..........


Sara said...

That was kind of like bellybutton lint. A mixture of a whole bunch of stuff and you have no idea where it came from.

As for the past, I recently received something that talked about how life was back then...played outside all day until the street lights came on, no video games or computers, no cell phones, etc. Life was different back then definitely and I am only 30.

Patty-Jo said...

Those are wonderful memories. I had a bike with a banana seat and sissy bar too.

Margaret is right. You'll do just fine.

Suzanne said...

Yes things are different. I once found a similar grave to what you mentioned...a few stones askew in the weeds of the woods I was exploring. I know they are no longer there, as the area is developed now with a subdivision. But I often wonder what it will be like one day when i'm gone, and there is nothing really left of me, except maybe a tattered purple mermaid barbie, and an old shoe. Some one will find it while they are out exploring, and wonder....
cold medicine or not. Great post.

Moogie said...

What a wonderful post. It brings back some really good memories.I had a bike with a banana seat and sissy bars as well. Only it was pink.

Michael_the_Archangel said...

We played 'tar tag' - for those who don't know, we had streets made of concrete. Concrete cracks and they would seal those cracks with tar (they did it in the summer). In 'tar tag' you chased each other, trying to tag one another, but both the tagger and the taggee had stay on the tar lines. Can't do that with asphalt. We also had 'tar gum' - won't go into it, but you can guess; yes it's an ugh, but not to us, not back then (moms hated it though).

We had the 'four corners' where the intersection of two streets were. We used that as a make-shift baseball diamond, with lots and lots of restrictions (can't hit it to far right field cause that was the Zanni's and they would come out and take the ball).

I had 'pidgeon man' who lived behind us. As you might guess, he kept pidgeons. A very odd fellow, which just made his birds and the eggs THAT MUCH MORE APPEALING to us.

I went to the catholic school and could walk or bike, it was only eight or nine blocks away. Half the kids went to my school, the other half went to the public school also about eight blocks away (in the opposite direction). Didn't matter, after school we all got together to play football, basketball or baseball depending on the season.

Some of what my father said he did in his youth sounded good to me (more fishing) but I sure didn't mind my youth. Never felt like my kids got even half the 'thrill' that I did.

Sharon said...

This was such a poignant and reflective post. Beautifully written. It made me sit here for a while deep in thought.
I had a bike that I refinished myself (with some help from my dad). I had it a day or two, and then someone stole it. It was neon orange. Go figure. I liked bright colors. Still do.
The one thing I miss about my childhood is that at one time, I lived under the same roof with my brothers and sister; we rode together on the bus, ate meals together at night, and defended each other out in the world when we had to go out in it. If I had known, then, that when we were adults we would go our separate ways and only get together on holidays (if then) I would have made more of the time we did have. Maybe that's why I hang on to memories that everyone else has forgotten; as the years go by we separate further and further until the memories are all that are left; no shared experiences anymore, just a scatter of photographs and old stories.