Note: After reading a delightful piece that Margo posted on “That Little Voice” (you should be following her if you aren’t, as she’s pretty swell), I got a bit nostalgic with my comment…
The memories spilled in on this one, Margo, especially the summertime flashbacks. My parents would unceremoniously shove us out the door in the early morning, allow us briefly back in the house for refueling around noon, and then there was more shoving, with no expectation that they would see us again until nightfall or someone did something stupid that required medical care.
We spent the entire day using our imaginations, aided now and then by something interesting we found in our rambling travels, creating universes in wide-open fields or deep in the woods or near a frog-croaking pond. There was something fundamental and right about taking what little you could find and infusing it with the magical elixir that children have, a star-touching investment in what-could-be that the young have (or at least used to have) before the young become older and the doors start to close and the valiant adventures become wispy, dissipating.
I still remember the frogs at the pond, burping wetly, a signal from the King of Pondlandia that we must now rush forth and confront the ne’er-do-wells from that other group of houses down the road, all of us waving finely-crafted stick swords and dying noble deaths full of romp and circumstance. Or playing “King of the Hill” around whatever pile of dirt or gravel or tires we chanced upon, engaging in that unfairly-balanced competition wherein whoever was on top of the pile basically stayed there, whilst the rest of us tumbled repeatedly back down the hill, screaming and laughing and not really caring if we banged a knee or tore a shirt, developments that would not bode well when we finally staggered home.
And then there were the quiet moments, safely back at home, lying in the yard, clutching our Mason jars full of lightning bugs. We would stare up at the sky, simply breathing, our bodies tuckered out for the evening, but our minds still buzzing with the fires that had been stoked by possibility. Each star was yet another adventure, another opportunity, another chance to be King. We hadn’t yet learned that there are only so many kings, and that those stars were much further away than we realized.
Still, even though I am now somewhat long in tooth and decidedly short on possibilities, the fever dreams we embraced, back yonder, are still with me today. I know that the stars are far, but that doesn’t mean I still can’t reach, and I briefly catch the faded lightning bugs with my jar, and I name them, remember them, and I tell their little secrets in my writing, my stories that are often absurd and surreal. And then I let the lightning bugs go, blinking their way towards another child, lying in their yard, looking up, dreaming…
Categories: My Life