My childhood wasn’t especially spectacular or amazing. But it was mine, and I hang onto the magic that I feel like it should have had, and now hold the spectacular moments that it did close to my heart. Years ago, my roommate commented on my cherished bulletin board. Loaded with photos, concert tickets, my high school graduation tassel, menus and matchbooks, it was my “I have had a good life” showcase to the world.
I felt such pride over that overcrowded bulletin board, and still miss it. It was my “Look! I can be cool!”
That bulletin board was my proof.
The fact that the world never saw it, and that hardly any sober people besides my dad ever visited our crappy apartment back then didn’t deter me from continually grooming that cork board reminder of life’s treasured adventures. It was my proof that I was, and had been, happy.
I was especially proud of the state labels that I’d collected from the bottoms of cigarette packs along a road trip taken freshman year in college with my best friend. Forever preserved in cellophane, those tiny state labels were a reminder that I was a traveler and an adventurer, if not a dumbass for smoking all of the contents held within the packages that they protected. I still have them, in an old scrapbook:
Each fall, while mourning the loss of summertime, I also looked forward to crisp, new, preppy and then less-than-preppy and more grungy back-to-school outfits, and the anticipation that maybe this would be the year when I’d be less awkward, more popular, and more athletic. Because, as everybody knows, athleticism grows during summer months spent at the pool, on bicycles, and that all angsty, story-writing, pale teenaged girls transform into swans while peddling nonchalantly by the homes of the boys they crushed on.
For me, the end of summer has always meant, and, continues to mean grief for the loss of long, light-filled days. For games of spotlight, played after dusk, of running back and forth from the neighbors to home, and for wished-for stolen kisses had in the bushes between.
But it’s also brought the fall leaves that I am too afraid to jump into for fear of spiders, anticipation, hope, and excitement over new beginnings. The bug-filled fall leaves come, and I’m somehow able to relax into my post-summer grief, and feel hope and anticipation for the new year.
While I mourn the loss of my son’s childhood as he begins kindergarten this week, I’m also excited for him to experience some of the things I remember most from growing up. Sadly, I do not remember many moments before turning five, or those incredible, snuggly, sweaty days spent giggling with my mother in the summer grass. I remember the sheet forts, built along the fence with the neighbor boy, and I remember being allowed to walk across the street to visit the elementary school playground, alone, to meet my friends. And while I am personally and selfishly heartbroken over the passing of Tucker’s beginning to the end of childhood, I’m excited for him.
It’s his turn, now. It’s his turn to create the memories that will carry him through his own grieving days as an adult watching his children grow too quickly. It’s his turn to find a start to making the friends that he will build forts with in dewy summertime grass. It’s his turn (in a few years ah hem) to start asking to go to the playground across the street without me.
And while I mourn it, grieve it, and shed tears over the fact that my baby is no longer a baby, I also celebrate it. Because, really, what is the alternative?
It’s his turn to have a childhood that, while not especially spectacular or amazing, will have moments worth holding onto. Maybe, one day, he’ll even have a cyber-bulletin board, full of concert tickets, photos, menus and memories, much like the one that I once had. But also, one that is entirely his very own.
This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post (a prompt-based writing exercise for bloggers to finish the sentence prompt and link up with those who also finished the sentence below). Today’s sentence was “At the end of each summer, I always feel…”