When I was a kid, I used to walk down this dirt road next to our log cabin in White Rock, British Columbia. This was the same dirt road on which I learned how to ride a bike. All I remember being instructed to do was…. NOTHING! I was just put on this bike and pushed down a hill. A bit melodramatic I know. Probably wasn’t even much of a hill. More like a gentle slope but it felt like I was falling into oblivion. It was the same feeling I had when I was learning how to drive and my dad said, ‘Hey! Let’s leave the safety of this little park where you can just drive slowly around the outskirts and let’s instead go hit the hustle and bustle of a busy intersection.’ (Ok he didn’t really say it like THAT – my dad is not THAT crazy. I love my dad. But he is a drama king and I know he enjoys these tributes to our family’s insanity).
So there I was trying to maneuver a stick shift when the reality that I was entering an intersection with cars coming from all directions freaked me out and I didn’t see the bicyclist and next thing I knew I was plowing into him, squishing the guy’s bike in half but somehow luckily he came out unscathed. So, I guess the moral of these two stories is: when learning new things, at least in my family, expect to be traumatized?
But I do have nice memories from childhood…because the same dirt road also took me to the wide expanse of a special hay field. It felt huge to me at the time. If I saw it now it would probably be no bigger than my smallish front yard but back then it was endless. It was like traversing the Alaska hinterland, the fjords of Norway (not that I knew what a fjord was at 7 but it sounds good to me now… well now that I’ve looked up ‘fjord,’ it couldn’t have been that either. More like a ‘prairie’ I guess, but that doesn’t fit. ‘Grasslands?’ That’s more like it.
I would go out into the GRASSLANDS and just listen to the wisps of tall, wavy grass twisting and crisscrossing in the wind. I would hide easily if someone were to come down and look for me. It didn’t take much to crouch down and instantly disappear. I could see bears coming out of the woods to feed on critters scurrying around if I lingered long enough in my imagination. It felt quiet and I felt free. No one could touch me out there in the wilderness (not that I was molested as a child or anything – I just realized that sounded weird).
It was the same kind of anonymity I loved in the living room. I used to fall asleep on the couch in the afternoon. Everyone was busy doing their thing and I might watch some afternoon cartoons or read a book and then just drift off (or not) on the couch. If someone walked in, I would just keep on pretending to be asleep, thrilled at the thought that THEY would think I can’t hear them talk about me (if they’re going to talk about me) or do something weird like pick their nose and eat it. ‘Oh look at her there! So peaceful! Ohh, I can’t disturb such a sweet little angel’ (goober tossed).
My childhood: the good and the not-so-good. Doesn’t matter now. I’m just glad that I’m here and my mind is still intact enough to remember them.