Recently on Fark.com, someone suggested that the posters should momentarily discontinue their cynicism about Bush/Cheney/the police/racism/sexism/Iraq/marriage rights/Hillary Duff and actually do something pleasant. Like recall your best childhood memory. Because I'm too cheap to pay for access to become a full-fledged Fark, I'm going to use my free space here.
Compared to most people I've met, my childhood was pretty idyllic. Lots of space, lots of green, lots of love. There were traumatizing bits (dropping my pet pheasant chick and breaking it's neck), mortifying moments (can anyone say menarche?), hurt, anger and frustration, too, but I've come to realize that growing up in itself is terrifying - and everything that I went through was pretty natural. At least, that's how I rationalize it. :)
There were two influential phases involving two influential groups in my childhood: my siblings and my friends (affectionately named Group Five, then renamed Group Six and now well, we're just a Group). Appropriately, my memories can be categorized around these two groups.
My older siblings were SO COOL growing up. Being four and six years behind them, I always felt like the butt end of everything. I was never as cool as my brother, never as smart as my sister (I later learned to cultivate what my mother calls a "smart mouth" to make up for this). So when they included me on things, I was elated.
Most of the playing I was allowed to do with my bro and sis was in our "back woods" - about ten acres behind our house. I remember playing war with my brother and being terrified (I hated being alone in the woods knowing that he could jump out at any moment and pelt me with sticks). I remember having a fort-building contest and rigging up logs into trees, while my brother burrowed underground into the only hill within ten miles and my sister created this amazing duck blind. My brother once decided to try fishing in our pond and only came up with a salamander, which he hung on a tree to dry. I remember finding a post-hole digger in our old garage and drilling three child size holes in the middle of my mother's flowerbed - then the next day they were filled with toads. Good times.
After 14, I was basically an only child as both my siblings had moved on to college and beyond. Luckily, oh so luckily in our tiny town, there were a group of girls with whom I actually go along and shared the same dorky interests. I dodged many years of loneliness, angst and depression by having those girls around.
Looking back, I honestly think that these women were more influential to me in my teenage years than anyone else. To this day, I give them credit for grounding me, keeping me strong, providing encouragement, information on becoming a woman and the occasional fake prom dress (ok so that was technically Kaydi's sister). In that awful year of 1997, when everybody was either dying or drowning, I still shake my head in wonder that we made the effort to gather at Kaydi's place for our annual pre-Prom bash. I'm kind of stunned at our insensitivity (I think Megan spent the day bailing out her house), but also our resiliency (we did a re-Prom later on that summer).
Occasionally, I dream of my high school boyfriend or my parents' farm, the sunset over the prairie or- when I'm feeling really homesick - large seemingly ancient machines moving across the horizon, kicking up dust and chaff in late August. But more often than not, when I dream of home, I dream of Kaydi, Roxie, Beth, Megan, Sarah and Kate.