Article

Childhood

conversations with hank

 

Hank: Mama, did you like your childhood?

Me: (taken back) Yes, very much.

Hank: What was it like?

Me: I think of my childhood in two sections. When we lived on Sunset Boulevard in Illinois and when we lived on Brooklyn Street in Ohio.

Hank: Which did you like best?

Me: They aren’t comparable. Those two parts of my life were so very different. In Illinois we lived on a street with a ton of other kids. My friends and I would meet outside and we would never play indoors. Even if you tried to go inside the mommies would pitch you back out again. Your Uncle Jesse and I had the best backyard on the block. We had a climbing tree and a garden and a swing set and we had a kickball diamond worn into the grass.

Hank: What’s Kickball?

Me: (pause, shocked) I will teach you about kickball.  It’s an american game kinda like if futebol (soccer) and baseball had a baby.

Hank: What’s baseball?

Me: (facepalm) For that conversation I will need visual aids. It’s a sport where they throw the white ball and hit it with a bat.

Hank: Oh. I think I have heard of that, but you can tell me later. Tell me more of this story, please.

Me: We had a hill for rolling down and the side of our garage for collecting and smashing rocks. A long driveway for chalk drawing and the front yard had a big tree stump for mud-pie picnics. We knew everyone in every house and you uncle Jesse saved up his money for what was called a boom-box which was one of the first personal music players that wasn’t a radio. It ran on these huge D batteries and we would walk up and down the block carrying the boom-box and parading to the music.  Our cousin Mark also lived with us and we spent a lot of time with Suzie Steen, you remember Caiden’s Mommy.

Hank: Yes.

Me: We didn’t come home until dinner and then we went right back outside. We’d catch fireflies in the summer, rake HUGE piles of leaves for jumping in the fall, build snow forts in the winter and have epic snowball fights, and go sledding down our back hill on your grammy’s cookie sheets and large stainless steal bread bowls and we lived there until I was your age and then we moved to Ohio.

Hank: Where your grandparents lived? We went there with Becca.

Me: Yup. Your Grammy’s whole family lived there or close by. We moved first, just your uncle Jesse and I and stayed with my grandparents on their farm while my parents sold the house, packed and moved. Then we moved to Brooklyn Street which was a dead end road of only 8 houses and we were the last house on the right that ended in a woods and there was a large field in back the house that lead to a water tower. It was so different to anything I knew. It was magical.

Hank: You took me by there, but there was no woods.

Me: It’s sad, but true. Since I grew up it was all cut down and more houses were built, but when I lived there I spent my days running wild with those trees, making forts and catching frogs. There was a path through the woods that lead right to the backdoor of a house where a girl named Quinn lived and we became good friends. She had a big imagination like me and she had a tree house which was so cool. You met Quinn at Becca’s house.

Hank: I remember her.

Me: Living on Brooklyn Street really opened my imagination. There were hawks and deer and lots of critters to chase after and there was magic and mystery in those trees. And I could ride my bike to my cousins houses and we had huge family dinners on Sundays at my Gram’s or your Tia Kay Kay’s. It was a very special place to be a kid.

Hank: And then you moved again?

Me: Yup. When I was 12 we moved to Indiana and that is when my life changed again because I became a teenager. Life was more about friends and drama and school and less about play and imagination. That is where I became friends with Iris and Bill’s daughter Jeni, your Auntie Emmie, Lyuba, and Tatyana, Jo and Bryan…

Hank: Kelly’s Bryan?

Me: Well, he was my friend before he met and fell in love with Kelly (college room mate), which is one of my favorite things. And so I think of my childhood in two parts: city life and country life.

Hank: You had a very nice childhood.

Me: I like to think so.

Hank: I am having a very nice childhood, too.

Me: (beaming) Nothing better than that. It means I am doing my mama-job right.

Hank: Oh yes, you are.

Me: (walking a little taller)