Bright, happy days

I’ve been a little on the heavy and serious side here…which may reflect either the state of the world, or the state of my mind, but most likely it’s a both/and thing. So, now I sit down consciously intending to keep it lighter, and maybe even try for funny. As everyone knows, there’s nothing like contriving to be humorous to insure big laughs. But, here goes.

I do often find myself seeking lighter, happier thoughts, usually by casting my mind back to lighter happier times. In my case I’d like to remember a time in my life before I began finding things to worry and obsess about, but I don’t actually have any memories of the womb. So my best childhood memories come from a fairly narrow window somewhere between 4 and neurotic. After that everything was fraught with meaning and overweening concern.

The week before I was to enter kindergarten, I had a severe attack of tonsillitis. Back then, it seems the remedies included leeches, the adjustment by arcane means of my ‘bodily humors,’ whatever they are, and, the most popular, ripping those suckers out by their roots. Today they give you Tylenol. Anyway, I didn’t go to kindergarten. Apparently my mom and the teacher agreed that kindergarten was meaningless, a total time waster, nothing more than pretend school. All the children did, the teacher assured my mom, was color and take naps–I could do that at home. Think about the message that sent a kid, it’s all meaningless and a waste of time, but everyone has to do it. Except you, Brian.

What the teacher, back in those unenlightened days, failed to consider was the one, genuine and vitally important benefit of kindergarten that I would miss out on; socializing with other kids my age. That I couldn’t do at home…after a while my mother would get weary of my relentless attempts to bond with her and she’d demand that I go outside and play by myself–which is exactly what I shouldn’t have been doing. So, I had a year of that existential angst, becoming more introverted, insular and antisocial.

And, in the early 1960s, when psychoanalysis was all the rage, I was right up to the minute; playing by myself and busily constructing my complex, worry by dark, haunting worry. I was a fairly grim, over-serious kid there for a while.

When I eventually started first grade, a friendly kid said “hi” to me as we lined up to go into school for the first time. I spent the day wondering what he had meant by that. But, despite my self-defined outsider status, I did eventually emerge from my cracked and damaged shell to live a fairly normal childhood. Ah, memories…of not getting valentines, of not being invited to parties, of wondering what everyone meant by just about everything they said.

Okay, I overstate things a little. Soon I’d outgrow all that childhood trauma and trade up to full-blown teen-age angst. Which, strangely enough made me feel normal–it was all the rage, everyone was doing it. Rock and roll, bell-bottom jeans, and adolescent anxiety.

In truth, my childhood and youth were pretty normal, and all of the weird, scary, or bothersome stuff I remember so darkly for humor’s sake, wasn’t that noticeable in the living of those times. I mostly remember that time warmly. Good, fun, sometimes wild days of youth. They seem to have passed in a sweet, sun-warmed haze, and too quickly. I remember those days as if they were just a few short years ago. I sometimes feel those days as if they were a million years ago. While the mind remembers with nostalgia, the body keeps an up-to-date record.

I don’t know if this came out any lighter, but I feel a lot better. Thanks for the memories.

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4 Responses to Bright, happy days

  1. Gary John Reynolds says:

    Best one yet.

    Funny, you never struck me as worried or introverted or insular or any of those traits you ascribe to your early childhood self. You always struck me as cocky. Cocky but with morals, because you were empathetic. Isn’t it funny how we see ourselves?

  2. Thanks Gary. First, I admit I was exaggerating for humor, though not inventing. As a youngster I did go through a phase like I described, but by the time we met, I had mastered some of it and probably hidden the rest. “Cocky but with morals…” I like that very much.

    It is funny how we see ourselves, until this moment, I never knew I was perceived as being empathetic. Thanks a lot for that insight into me.

  3. Kevin a/k/a Jimmy says:

    Brian methinks you need to re-think the title of this blurb (if that is the proper word).

    We can all recall certain indelible times / periods in our youth. I generally recall being happy, hyper, athletic and a bit of a loose cannon. What is amazing to me as a parent of a 4 and 7 year old is the unerring ability of my kids to have fun in any situation and to not obsess on any particular situation … at least not for more than 15 – 30 minute rant / euphoria. Their ability to move from situation to situation, discover new interesting people/places/things and generally be happy with such ease and naivete is utterly amazing to me.

    I often find myself wishing to walk in their shoes / see the world through their eyes if only but for a small time period. But I also realize with a fair degree of satisfaction that it is only because of my life experiences that I can have that perspective and that is to be cherised. My kids have no idea (and hopefully will not for a good long time) the sense of pride and happiness that comes from observing your kids being kids.

    In moments like this I have said to my daughter (as precocious and warm spirited a soul I have ever met) “Enjoying your childhood much?” She just smiles but I think she gets it. To my son, in his increasing instances of PPP (parental pride production) I simply ask him if he knows he is “the best.” He doesn’t answer – just hugs me and then starts his continuous efforts to obtain candy or watch Star Wars. Nothing like the simple joys for that boy.

    Sorry to have rambled. It is late, I am tired and it is Maundy Thursday. If I ever write a novel it will have to involve Maundy Thursday … G’night. Keep it light …

    • It’s a blog, Kev, or an entry, or an item…whatever works. I’ll admit a few things: I had a normal childhood for the time; full of all the energy, craziness, fun and adventure that any other kid enjoyed. I overplayed some less sunny aspects for fun here, and titled the piece with intentional irony.

      Any time I hear of ‘Maundy Thursday,’ I think to myself, ‘that’s not right, it’s Maundy, Tuesdy, Wednesdy…’ But happy Maundy Thursday, Kev–and Happy Easter to you and your entire family.

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