Childhood isn’t a place too long gone for me; it’s what the attic of my head is wallpapered in.
For many of us, childhood was one of the brightest, most promising times. Therefore, it remains today as a safe, heartwarming place in our minds. A place where we can return to, like remembering a good dream, whenever we want. And thanks to the people who are still alive who share those memories with us, we have access this seemingly imaginary fantasy world that we were all once a part of. In a land called The Eighties. Or Nineties. Or Sixties. (There are several to choose from.)
My literary teacher Michael Chabon explains it (he doesn’t know who I am, in reality) in a way that would make me jealous that he thought of it first, except for the fact if it weren’t for studying his style, I wouldn’t be the same writer I am today. He refers to mutual collected memories in his book Manhood for Amateurs as “an entire network of tunnels, secret passageways, into the past”.
We carry the exclusive memories of each other in the hard drives of our own minds, sporadically reminiscing to make sure of the validity of the events, and to glean from the enhanced emotions attached to them.
The way my mind works, I can’t just simply open a file in my head entitled “Childhood: 1981-1993”. Instead, these scattered gems are embedded along with all other memories and knowledge. So when I click on one file, there’s sure to be a random childhood memory hanging on to it.
And sometimes I just have flashes of them. Like the Spring and Summer of 1989 (2nd grade) when I played baseball. The pings of the aluminum bats, the crickets singing their alien songs in the moist, freshly cut baseball fields. The sun going down as each game began.
And when I go to that place, I remember how I had the biggest crush on Meg Guice, who never had a clue. Yes, those were the days were drinking Kool-Aid; my favorite flavor being the short-lived “Sharkleberry Fin”, only second to Hi-C’s “Ecto Cooler”. When Saved by the Bell hadn’t quite arrived, so The Smurfs pretty much taught me what I needed to know about society.
Memories of being in Cub Scouts, riding the bus from school every Tuesday to the First Methodist Church, where my parents (the scout leaders) met us there with the aforementioned Kool-Aid and some adventurous craft assignment, like a bug collection (in which Matt Hall brought in a dead bat) or brainstorming about the upcoming Pinewood Derby race (which I won 1st place overall in 1991, thanks to my dad’s craftsmanship).
I could go on, but I have a feeling by this point, some of your own childhood memories have been stirred up. Don’t let me interrupt that for you. Have fun.