Place

 

Growing up, home was simply about where my family lived at the time. By the time I was done with public school we had lived in 11 homes, in 9 cities, in 7 states, and I’d attended 8 different schools. No “place” was home.

My mother was raised Southern Baptist in rural Alabama, my father was Jewish from Brooklyn. There was no faith, no specific heritage that I found refuge in either. I was baptized in the Lutheran church, when I was about five years old, but I never felt fully part of it. My dad would come to church on Sundays, but he just came along to keep mom company. He did not participate. This felt odd, and there was always a part of me that felt divided.

I was the baby of the family; 17 years separate me from my eldest sibling. I never had a cousin my age. So even at  family gatherings I was on the edge of things, always trying to be part of what my elder siblings and cousins were up to, trying to tag along. 

Perhaps that is the most clear way to describe how the lack of home impacted me: I’ve rarely felt like I fit in. I lived in a small town in Illinois in high school, small enough for most of us to know each other. Yet, I was always the new kid because I did not have the history with the others. I lived in an urban sprawl area on the Jersey shore, and there I felt like I disappeared in the crowd. 

But as an adult I’ve found the feeling has shifted. I’ve now lived in Albuquerque longer than anywhere else, and my last house was my longest residence by a factor of two. But it’s not just the amount of time that has caused a shift. I finally feel close to a landscape. The mountains and the desert move me in ways the eastern flatlands never could. The climate, the dry air, was a balm for my heavy soul when I moved here; 33 years in the humidity weighs one down. 

However, as much as I love the place that is New Mexico, I think I was simply ready for it. After the moving I had done, after the searching for my own life, I arrived here ready to embrace it. I knew that immediately. The drive from Florida to Albuquerque was only spread out over three days, but it may as well have been the journey of a lifetime. I was home, and I knew that I would be staying here for some time.

I may not stay in New Mexico for the rest of my life, but I have found home. Besides this town, this geographic place, I know that home is really in one’s heart. I felt like an outsider for much of my youth, but I feel grounded now. Even when I move away, even when I’m new to another town, I’ll be able to feel at home.

I have known people who grew up in one town, but hated it and couldn’t wait to move away. I’ve known people who have disowned their family of origin. Duration, being “from somewhere,” does not necessarily make home. What we choose in our heart, where we are drawn to, that defines home.

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Pennsylvania Stories: Sweet and Timid

Lancaster, Pennsylvania, that bucolic little place, known for it’s Amish community and not much else. That’s where I spent the years from kindergarten to mid-fourth grade. Those were not very interesting years for me, just a time of coming into myself in the world, getting used to going to school and being around people. That was not, nor has it ever been, one of my favorite things. But it’s part of growing up, and for a timid kid like me, it had its challenges. Like….

There was a time, perhaps it happened a couple of days in a row, when I got punched by a younger kid while we waited for the bus after school. I claimed to know his age by the grade he was in, and I wouldn’t allow that he actually knew how old he was (maybe I was a bit stubborn as well as timid).  So he punched me in the stomach. I was not aggressive enough to fight back, so I just took it.

Then there was my friend Keith, and the time we wrestled in his back yard. I beat him, nothing big about that. But he got upset, and when I went to let him up he jumped around and got on my back and proceeded to dig his knuckles into my spine. It hurt, I got upset in turn, but I did not beat him up. I threw his G.I. Joe doll, though, and stormed off.

Once, probably in first grade, my shoe was untied. I just stood there, because I did not know how to tie it, and I was afraid to ask for help. Finally my teacher noticed and had one of my classmates tie it for me.

In second grade we worked on our multiplication tables. I had a hard time with them, but I found a kid to cheat from one day. I copied his work easily enough. When we took our papers up to the teacher for grading, I walked up behind this other kid. The teacher let him know which he got wrong, and there was plenty. Since I had copied all my work from him, I turned to go back to my desk as he left the teacher’s desk. But the teacher called me back over; she didn’t know why I was walking away, but she knew soon enough. I was terrible at cheating, always have been.

It’s rough stuff, looking back at myself in those days. I was a sensitive, timid little guy, and I didn’t know how to navigate the world. Once at the library, where our parents would take us weekly, I read some stuff about volcanoes. The idea that lava could explode out of the ground anywhere, since it was inside the earth, terrified me. I expected to see an eruption in the streets as we drove home. So naive!!

There’s more, much more timidity and sweetness. But I can only take so much at once. I know it’s back there, I know I have thought about it all, but to write about it and confront it, I have to take it in small doses. So please come back soon for more kid stuff.

 

The Pioneering Trendsetter

In many ways I have been a late bloomer, or sometimes I would say I have simply been behind the times: I didn’t learn how to ride a bike until I was in the fourth grade, nine years old. I didn’t try tying my own shoes until the second grade. I didn’t kiss a girl until I was 17. And it was 2005 before I first listened to Snoop Dogg’s debut album (and loved it), only 12 or 13 years after the fact…

That being said, there are actually a number of ways in which I see myself as a pioneer, a trendsetter. Really. You see, I got my first tattoo in 1988, well before tattoos were a part of our everyday culture. When I got my first ink, it was at a biker tattoo shop, about the only place in Clearwater Fl to go. The only folks I knew with tattoos back then were construction workers and veterans (and rock stars, but I didn’t personally know Axl Rose). A few years later I would find some guy doing more artistic tattoos out of his apartment. Back then, you did what you had to in order to get your ink. Nowadays, there are custom tattoo shops all over the place.

What else? Well, I found CrossFit years before anyone I knew had heard of it. In 2006 I read an article online about this new exercise program, and I was very impressed with it. I loved the idea of strength training outside of the traditional confines of a gym, but alas, at the time there were no CrossFit programs up and running in Albuquerque. Now there are easily a dozen here in town.

You know how big Starbucks is these days? Well, in 1995 I opened a coffee shop in Clearwater Fl with my sister. At the time, we were only the second coffee shop in the entire Tampa metropolitan area. We even proceeded the flood of Starbucks that was to come. We were inspired, and the lack of examples did not deter us.

However, my initial foray into the cutting edge was way before any of those things. This involved a unique culinary treat, and my sister Net was again part of the deal. I was in the second or third grade, perhaps later (but probably not; memories are so hard to pinpoint back at that age). This was before chocolate croissants were all the rage, before IHOP served chocolate chip pancakes, before Nutella hit it big in the US. Yes, prior to anyone else combining chocolate and bread, Net and I did: we made Oreo sandwiches.

Just let that deliciousness sink in for a moment. The sweet, two-toned texture of the Oreo, nestled in the pillowy softness of sliced white bread. We’d put two cookies on one side of a slice, fold that bread on over, and heaven. Simplicity at its finest. The doughy blanket not only predated the widespread use of chocolate and bread, it also foretold of deep-fried everything at the state fair. That bready coating, that extra texture is what it’s all about.

So, yeah, we were way ahead of the curve on that one. I’m not always aware that I’m bucking convention or setting a trend, I just follow my heart. Or sometimes, my stomach.

Pennsylvania Stories: Superheroes

One of my favorite Pennsylvania memories is the time we got dressed up as superheroes! I was in second grade, so I was six or seven years old, depending on the time of year….probably seven. We lived in our second house in Lancaster, a huge farmhouse with a giant field on one side and a dead-end road on the other….and an old decaying barn behind it too.

Our cousin Phil was visiting (he was four years older than me, Scott was three years older, and Net was two). Phil’s mom, our Aunt Marion, had helped us with the costumes; maybe she had made only the boots, but that was enough! I mean, red felt boots were essential to a kid’s superhero identity. We also had capes. Our family had holiday stuff stashed around, so in that cluster of costumes and decorations were a couple of black capes. (I did not have a lot of stuff that was actually mine. Plenty of hand-me-down clothes and stuff, a shared bedroom and toys, family books and such. The capes were like that, family stuff.)

Each of us four kids had on a costume and we were going exploring. To be really adventurous, we should have gone into the barn, that deserted rickety thing. But we went down the dead-end road, checking out what was happening in the closed businesses down that way. There wasn’t much going on really anywhere on a weekend in Lancaster, PA, and down that road was no exception. I recall the business at the end of the road was a honey factory.

We all snuck around the outside like we were investigating, as heroes are wont to do. No cars, no activity. Then we heard a noise from inside! We ran! The noise was nothing specific, but in the quiet of that end of the road it was loud enough for us to tear off out of there. You know, we were kids. Who knew what could be lurking around in there? A giant monster bee? Gangsters robbing the honey riches? A janitor making the rounds?

Kids. That was about it, that was the adventure for our superheroes. We had a whole house to play in anyway. Innocent, to be sure, but it was fun as anything to get all costumed up and bop around. That’s something I’ve come to appreciate as an adult, that we all try to find ways to get dressed up and play, whether it’s a costume party, a sports league, what have you: adults enjoy a good round of playing as superheroes in their own ways.

Transition to Pennsylvania

My intention all along with this blog, with this not-so-remarkable story, has been to give a timeline of my life. I envisioned it as an ongoing story, a serial with weekly (or so) installments, along with colorful anecdotes sprinkled in for variation and entertainment….(well, it’s all for entertainment, so maybe for varied entertainment?)…anyway… I have not done too well sticking to that formula. I have not posted in some time, before just recently anyway, and even when I was more regular it was pretty random stuff. All of this is to let you know that I want to get back to a storyline. With that in mind, we are now moving from my earliest memories in Detroit to my next earliest, in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

It was some time in 1970-71 that we made the transition. I did not care, honestly. I have no memory of caring in the least that we were moving. At that time, and for much of my childhood, being with family was about all that mattered. As long as the family was going, I was also going and I was cool with it. We left two siblings when we left Detroit, or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that they had left us: sister Anne and brother George had both joined the navy and would not accompany us to PA. (On a side note, I heard last summer that my folks did not notify George of our move, so that when he got leave he had to do some searching to find out where we resided.Weird, huh?)

Well, with them gone it left five of us kids to roll on across the quiet Pennsylvania landscape with our folks to Lancaster, a rinky-dink place in Amish country, about an hour from big-city Philadelphia. We arrived during the school year, so I got to start school twice in my first year. That was rough. To show up after other kids had already started hanging out together, to be the outsider, ugh! For shy little me it was a hard thing to take on.

But still, as I’ve said, it was all about family. So while school days were not my favorite, being around my two brothers and two sisters and my folks made it all okay. Moreover, we were now just an hour or so from our cousins who lived near Philly. So it was pretty common for one family or the other to visit, and I loved having three cousins and an aunt and uncle to kick it with. And holidays saw even more visiting, as the other siblings would generally be around, sometimes with friends or their own loved ones. More to come about holidays….

Yes, that was somewhat of an idyllic time for me. I settled into school after all, my family was around, we had a big yard with snow in the winter and a pool in the summer; the neighborhood was quiet but had plenty of kids my age. Over the next year I’d learn how to read, and find out that I really liked it, I’d make my own friends at school (Barry, Scott, John Harris) get my first crush, and I’d get a couple of good lessons about keeping my mouth shut. Yes, PA was an okay time for little me, just a quiet kid trying to be a good citizen.

Early Memories: Detroit, Michigan

So we moved a bunch, that has been established. After my birth home in New York (Long Island, I never had the chance to get to know ya’) the family found it’s way to Hot-lanta (Atlanta, Georgia). I hold no memories of that place, but it did not take us long to make our long way north to Detroit, Michigan. That’s the big red blotch in the image above.

Detroit. Who moves to Detroit? I mean, especially in 1970. Well, apparently my family did, leaving the eldest sibling behind in Atlanta to make her way. And here is where it begins for me, in Detroit. I have to rely on older brothers and sisters to fill in details of my early years, but here in the upper midwest I can start to recall things for myself.

I don’t have any exciting memories (again, please note the “unremarkable” in the title), but I do have a few regular, little-kid tidbits to share. These few memories define Detroit for me, because this is all I have: I am wrestling with my bestie, Matina (the spelling may be off, but I have never forgotten her name), and she is on top of me, sitting on my chest in victory. To get her off of me, I say “you’re smothering me.” Simple, huh? Still, that image is forever etched in my mind. Another that is perhaps ingrained due to hearing it from my brother Scott many times: I am on the back porch sitting next to a friend. Scott walks out of the back door just as I am putting a potato chip in the kid’s ear. Scott asks me why I’m doing such a thing, and I simply respond that he did it to me. And Scott will still laugh to this day, because as I turn he notices a piece of potato chip still in my ear.

How about this beauty: we are throwing dirt at a younger kid, for no reason that I can recall. What I do recall is his father coming out of the house and yelling at me and the other kid who are throwing dirt, telling us we better clean the dirt out of the kid’s mouth.  Of course, being dutiful kids, we attempted to do so. At least, I did so for about a minute before I bailed, saying I needed to get home for dinner. Do you need to know about the time (pre-kindergarten) when I pooped my pants, and my brother Jimmy had to interrupt his basketball game to lift me over the fence so that I could go home? No, you probably don’t need to know about that.

But I did see a witch one day! I was waiting in the doorway of the school (I was in kindergarten) for my mom to arrive to walk me home. She was late, which was not like her, so I was in a nervous state. (It took me many years to overcome my nervous/anxious response to things not going according to plan…) And as I stood there I saw a witch walking down the sidewalk. She was stooped over a bit, and had a scarf around her head, two traits which were enough to signify ‘witch!’ in my childish, nervous brain. Holy crap, she saw me and headed my way, but before I had to really freak out about it I saw that it was my mom. Whew!

Perhaps that’s enough excitement for one posting. But one thing you must keep in mind as you read these anecdotes is the concept that memory is fluid, flexible, adaptable…subject to change. There are things in my memory bank that I think could actually be stories I have heard from someone else, stories that hit me the right way to become embedded in my own memory. Or I think sometimes a nugget of memory has had details grow around it, much like a grain of sand becomes a pearl in the safe confines of an oyster. I know that some are accurate, but I am not so silly as to think all of them are just as they occurred. So perhaps time will let me know if I’m actually remembering correctly, or imagining something. Or one of my siblings will.

Thanks for checking in.

The Suddenness of Death

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The suddenness of death is the real shocker, the devastator. And this is not new, but still I must write about this experience.

In September of 2015, my beloved beagle, Billie Jean, died. Two nights later I sat in my living room with the thought: I’m never going to see her again. It about took my breath away. But there it was, and I couldn’t deny it.

You must accept the ‘gone-ness’ of your loved one, accept that finality, or go crazy trying to avoid it. As we stood in the exam room at the vet’s office, where they would administer the final shot, I felt panic. I was laden with grief for my baby girl, and I suddenly looked at my girlfriend and said “I think I might freak out.”

It was a feeling I’ve never experienced, as if my world was being pulled out from under me, the foundations slipping away. I felt that I would hyperventilate, that I would fall over or start thrashing at the walls. The thought that I would never see Billie again brought me to my knees. Because it was reality, and the suddenness of it did not make it less real.

But that suddenness is surreal, thus the freak out. Suddenly in a rush six years was gone, suddenly her sweet nature would not be part of my daily life, suddenly all the plans and dreams I had for this creature were nil. Suddenly reality had shifted, and I had to accept it. In that moment, as I stood before Billie–already gone really, her eyes dull, her body still other than quick, shallow breaths–as I stood there I had a choice: I could embrace her or I could cling in desperation and try to avoid or alter reality. So of course I embraced her, I had to. And grief overwhelmed me.

It would have dishonored her to freak out. Of all things, sweet quiet Billie hated when I got loud or banged things. It would have been the cruelest thing had I done that for her exit, so I cried and moaned for her. Oh, I cried. I squeezed her and smelled her and buried my face in her neck.

How many times had I knelt down and rested my forehead on hers, our eyes on top of each other? “My sweet baby girl”, I’d say to her. “Who loves you baby?”, I would ask her constantly. But I will never kiss that sweet beagle face again, only in memories and dreams.

I have had deaths in my life that I have had time to prepare for, to say goodbyes for, to accept. That, for me, has been much easier to bear. I can miss someone, but the acceptance over time makes even that less of a burden. I could see my father’s time coming, we had time to discuss it, the whole family got to be present for that moment. It was beautiful, actually.

Billie must have been sick for some time, but I was oblivious to her symptoms, as I chose to delude myself with ideas of youth and vitality. When the reality hit, it was a quick 24 hours of decline, then the next 24 were like lightning, and I was left spinning and reeling in the wake of life’s passing.

I was shocked and wasted by the turn she took. She let go quickly; perhaps she had held on for long enough, quietly bearing her burden. But when she let go, I was caught flat-footed. And life rolled right over me.

The Best New Year’s Ever!

Meddle

I was a fool to meddle with someone else’s property. A fool and a jerk, a real jerk. It was New Year’s Eve and I was in Key West, FLA. It was the southernmost NY’s Eve celebration in the continental U.S, but any geographical significance was lost on me. I was simply out of my head from a day of drinking beer and smoking marijuana as we drove from central Florida south all day.

Now it was nearing the hour and I, along with my two friends, was looking for mischief. But isn’t that an innocent-sounding way of saying we were being jerks and messing with peoples’ stuff? Yes, it is. Let’s be clear.

We were all relieving ourselves in a parking lot–bad enough, right there, to be doing so in a public space, darkness and the cover of night notwithstanding. But then, as we finished and turned to go, we walked by a VW bus, and it got much worse. For some idiot reason I tested the doors, which turned out to be unlocked. Suddenly we were in someone else’s car, rummaging around like we belonged there, looking for anything worth the taking. A cooler was on the floor! Surely it held alcohol! The lid flew off, but it proved to be empty. Not ready to give up in my stupidity, I then spied a little something sweet hanging from the rear view mirror, waiting just for me.

A beaded necklace, just two rows of tiny plastic beads, simple and red, with a little-bitty pair of moccasins at the center. I was blown away. I had just finished reading the book “The Tracker” days ago,  a story of a young man growing up in the wilds of southern New Jersey, learning to live off the land from a native elder. I saw this necklace as my prize, spoils of war, if you will. It was waiting there for me to find it, and I had been drawn to it with purpose. I took it and immediately put it on my neck, claiming it was good medicine.

I was such an ass, I wore it that night in our drunken revelry, I wore it as we slept on the beach under a cluster of palm trees. And the next day, as we recovered from the party and made our long drive home, I repeated time and again that it was my medicine, as if I’d won it in honorable battle.

Of course, I hadn’t won it, and of course it wasn’t good medicine. That point would be driven home very shortly. I lived in St. Petersburg, half a state away from Key West, and had been home for barely a week. I came back to my little alley apartment one afternoon to find that my bicycle had been stolen. Just like that.

I swore! I gnashed my teeth! I shook my fists! I railed against evil, proclaiming that it was the lowest of the low to take from someone else. Steal all you want, I don’t care, as long as it’s from the rich, the powerful, the privileged. But don’t steal from some poor slob who’s just trying to get by. I would never..do…that….to…..someone……..Hmmmmm. And in that moment I saw the black hand of Karma rise like a cartoon colossus from Key West, stretch hundreds of miles across space, and set things right by making my bike disappear.

Sure, maybe I was foolish for not locking the bike while I was at work. But I know what happened. I meddled where I shouldn’t have, and I was meddled in return.

Tattooed, Not Pierced. A Punctured Story

Puncture

I am tattooed. I know, big deal, who isn’t? Most every strip mall here in town, just like in probably every other city across the U.S.A. , has a tattoo shop. But it wasn’t always like this.

My first tattoo hit my skin in 1988. I lived in Clearwater, Florida, across the bay from Tampa. I’d been seeing a tattoo on my skin for a couple of years, although I cannot recall where that vision came from: back then, tattoos were the province of bikers and rock stars. Actually, not even too many rock stars rocked the ink in the mid-80s; Axl Rose hit it big with Guns N Roses around then, and his tattoos, bright and bold and prominently displayed on his arms, really opened the door.

But I had this urge from somewhere, so in summer of 1988 I went to Lou’s Tattoos, probably the best-known tattoo place in town, and had an atom inked onto my right shoulder-blade (is that image called the atomic swirl?). From there, they gradually migrated down my arm…and I do mean gradually. It would be six years later that I dared to put one on the inside of my wrist.

I entered that realm modestly and thoughtfully, perhaps due to the lack of role models or examples. What was happening prior to the rise of tattoos were simply piercings. Before Axl hit the scene sporting unashamed ink, rock stars were expressing themselves with ear-piercings.

Note that I said ‘ear-piercings’ there. Nowadays, as many people have facial piercings or bodily piercings as have their ears pierced. And most of the ears, it seems, are now gauged rather than just being pierced. But in the 80s, it was mostly ears (mostly), and only piercings. I don’t recall seeing gauges back then at all.

And that’s where it almost started for me, almost. With pierced ears. I was 19 years old in the fall of 1986, and I was bored. I was in my second semester at the local community college, and I was bored on a Friday night. I was not a terribly social person, but I was still tired of sitting around the house, over and over. (obviously I was not very imaginative either, that I could not think of a way to entertain myself). So this one Friday night I decided on a new course of action. I was going to head to the mall that evening to get my ear pierced. (Two things to note in that sentence: 1. going to head to the mall; that was the only place for piercings. There were no shops that specialized in needles back then, and tattoo shops were for tattoos. 2. ear, as in singular. I was going to get one ear pierced. Back then, guys had one ear pierced; only rock stars had both ears done. And one ear pierced signified that you were gay, and the other pierced meant straight.)

But I was down for it, and I was going big. I was going to get one ear pierced five times, up the lobe! Crazy, right? That was my rebelliousness coming up, although that would do nothing to alleviate my boredom, other than for that one evening. I kept it to myself, but I was just waiting for a little later in the evening and I was going to go take action. But I never made it.

I got invited to a party instead. Again, I was not very social, with really no friends other than my older brother to hang out with. But I was in the school honors fraternity (actually it is a nationwide junior college honors fraternity, Phi Theta Kappa), and had been to a few meetings and had met some new folks. One of these young women invited me, along with a bunch of other members, to her house for a party. As much as I don’t like parties, I am surprised at my willingness to go. But go I did. It turned out to be a lot of fun and I met some nice people that night.

Perhaps I’d have gone to the mall the next night, or at least the next Friday, but another detour appeared in my piercing plan. The next night I got a call from the same woman; she was having another, smaller, get-together with some of the same folks and wanted me to come back over. Again I agreed. Well, it turns out that one of my new acquaintances from the party was a young woman who wanted another chance to talk with me. Being a close friend of the host, she requested the second night’s mini party so that we could have more time together.

Well, we hit it off and would end up dating for several months after that. That relationship story is for a different page, but for this story what it meant was that I was not bored on Friday night, or any other night, for quite some time. The piercing plan faded into memory and that was that. I would go on to get tattooed, again and again, between 15 and 20 times during my twenties and thirties. And once or twice I considered a piercing. Ultimately, though, I have found that while I could take the tattoo needle, the piercing needle scared the crap out of me. So I missed my moment. But I don’t miss it now.

Memories of Youthful Innocence

Memories are rising to the surface today as I sit and reflect on an unremarkable life. I am thinking about a neighborhood water fight, it’s 1973 and I’m in the first grade, the summer before or the summer after. Just a water fight, squirt guns and water balloons and kids of all ages chasing each other around a quiet neighborhood. I wore a shirt emblazoned with a puffy, plastic Snoopy in shades, with ‘Joe Cool’ above his head.

Or playing in the snow, a couple feet of it, in our backyard. I am wearing some playtime cowboy gloves, with big cuffs trimmed with fringe. Bundled up for warmth but with some silly cowboy gloves! I just liked them and wanted to play in them, that’s all.

Or running through the haunted house my family had made in our basement (still in the first or second grade). My brother-in-law Burt played a scary character, that’s the only detail I recall, except for running through it with my friend John, us holding hands for courage!

And all of these memories bring up a feeling of wistfulness….Now, I don’t hold onto these memories as being ‘the good old days’. They induce good feelings, as they are fun memories, and I enjoy writing them out and sharing them. But just like the memories which are less fun, they are all just windows into my life, into who I’ve been and what led me to this place.

….Just the other day, my love asked me if I ever expected life as an adult to be like this; ‘like this’ meaning what we go through as grown-ups, the daily routines of caring for a household, the joy and the pain of living. I could not scrape together any memory of such an expectation or vision of adulthood. The only clear memory I have in which I am a kid thinking of adulthood was from a moment in which I am watching my dad goof around and make my mother laugh; in that moment I wondered if I’d ever feel so comfortable with someone as to be free to be so silly.

But the response that came up for me when she asked me that, was that as a kid I could not imagine the complexity of life. Of course, it is not for a child to comprehend. I could not imagine the depth of emotion one can feel: towards another individual, towards a beloved furry companion. I had no way to measure memory; my life of just a few years could not see the scope of time that I can at fifty, memories stretching far back into the past, the future still expanding out before me. I could not imagine having interests and passions that captivate me to the point that there never seem to be enough hours in the day to indulge in them. I could not imagine the energy one can feel, the lust for life that propels one through the days, weeks, etc. So no, I never expected anything of adulthood, but I could neither expect life to be like it is.

And with that in mind, I look back on those simple childhood memories, snow-play and water fights, and how sweet they are. And the innocence and simplicity of it all makes me want to cry. Not out of sadness, really, but out of love for the child who really can only know so much, being so young and new to the world. Tears for the child who believes in love, without being able to put it into such words and without needing to. This innocence, I must argue, has its own depth and resonating power. I do not demean it by calling it simple, I honor and cherish it, the mystery of it all.