I saw two images this weekend which reminded me of my childhood.
First, while in traffic, I was stopped next to this rather steep hill. I firmly remember standing triumphantly at the top of whatever hill Joe Brown Park had to offer. I’d fling my arms open and above my head, close my eyes, then roll to the bottom, shrieking and laughing all the way down. Then I’d run back up, spitting dirt out of my mouth, and do it over and over, until I was exhausted. I would climb trees to frightening heights, close my eyes until the split second after I jumped and shriek with joy. I My mother would laugh at all the brambles and leaves I’d have in my hair after days at the park, and joke about throwing me into the washing machine.
Even in that sweet memory, I laughed at the vision of me doing the same thing at 34: gently stretching out on the earth, stretching my hands over my face protectively, and immediately popping up shake out my hair. Would I do it only once, for nostalgia’s sake? Maybe twice to prove a point? It’s amazing how there are times when ignorance, or at least the accompanying innocence, is in fact blissful. As free spirited as I am, what happened to my utter sense of abandon?
Second, I passed by the swim club near my house, and could see the children diving in. My very first pool experienced involved being on vacation. I was so excited to be in my new swimsuit with the alligator on it (Lacoste bitches), and I saw all the kids having a ball, I took off like a shot. I’d seen it a million times on the commercials. I made it to the edge, pinched my nose, closed my eyes and CANNONBALL – sinking all the way to the bottom, of course. For some odd reason, I didn’t panic. I sat at the bottom and waited. Within seconds, I saw and grabbed my aunt’s hand.
I can but wonder where that girl went? When did I begin to stand with my arms folded? When did my eyes sharpen from oblivious to watchful? How do I find the whooping girl that jumps in, with the confidence that everything will happen as it should? Last night, I said I choose me, and I still mean that in so many ways. But the hill conquering, tree jumping, cannonballing whooping goddess is the me I’m choosing.