Pondering on the Days of my Youth

While my childhood, for the most part, is a bit of a blur to me, there are a few things I do remember rather fondly from the days of my youth.

I was not particularly graced with an abundance of toys, and therefore, the ones that I had become all the more special to me. There was one very treasured toy in my somewhat small collection. My beloved Mrs. Beasley Doll. I vaguely remember for years, how I carried this doll around with me and showered her with the most adoring love and affection a child can bestow on one’s most treasured toy. Aside from my beloved doll, I can remember distinctly how from a very young age until well throughout my teenage years, my next greatest love was my radio. Whether it be a small portable cassette recorder, to a small pre- “boombox” era radio. I can still remember the day I finally got my very first Sony Walkman! Boy, did I sure think I was somebody then. I had been blessed with the ability to have portable music pretty much throughout my youth, but now, with the tiny little speaker that fit just over my ears, my music was more private, it was mine, and I did not have to share it with anyone. I am not entirely sure why the idea of having my music all to myself was so appealing to me. Given that today, as an adult, I love to play songs for other people, and I enjoy sharing songs that mean a great deal to me with people that I am closest to. I suppose, in retrospect, during my childhood, there were a lot of things that were out of control and far beyond my scope of comfort, and when I could put on my personal speakers and control the music that only I listened to, it was a form of escape. Ironically, music has long been a form of escape for many people, and I am among those plenty.

I did not have the luxury of having a large group of people in my life throughout my childhood. My family was very reserved and kept a pretty tight circle. Growing up as a child, I only had a handful of cousins, and only three of them were even within my close proximity. The other family members were only present in my life once a year, during Thanksgiving, and then there was one family that I saw sporadically throughout the year, but we were never close. One of my cousins that did live next door to me became my best friend. He was a second or third cousin; we never did actually figure that out. However, it did not matter. He became closer to me than I was with my first cousins or even my brother. We went through a period, as young teenagers, in which we wanted to escape our lives. We had a lot of things in which we wanted to run away from. But we were too young and far too scared to even try running away. So, we created these imaginary fantasy lives for ourselves. I had always dreamed of being a drummer in a rock band and he loved the guitar. With a badminton racket and a few sticks carefully selected and snapped off an unsuspecting tree, we would fire up some music, normally on the portable radio outside, and instantaneously become the heroes in our own little world of rock and roll. Music videos came on the television on weekend nights late into the night. Even though, I knew we would both risk getting into more trouble than we ever wanted, I would let him slip in the front door after midnight on the weekends, and we would sit quietly in the living room, watching videos, and dreaming of one day escaping the world in which we knew and becoming famous in our own rock band. Aside from music, we actually created our own pretend identities. Looking back now, it is really funny and really sad at just how much we craved to be someone else to the extent that we began to really take on the personas of our make-believe personalities. Our alter egos even evolved with us as we grew up as teenagers. We created the identities in our youth, and as we became older teenagers, we changed our characters names and personalities to adjust to our newfound lives from childhood to teenager. The saddest part of it all, looking back, is that my alter ego was always a boy. Things had happened to me that I felt like if I had been a boy would not have happened. My pretend persona was a boy because I despised how being a girl made me feel weak.

As a child, I remember developing a strong love for reading. I suppose it was yet another means of escaping reality. I could sit for hours and read about anything or anyone. I still remember one of my most favorite books of all that I read at about the time of transitioning from a child into a teenager. I cannot remember my exact age, but I remember I was young, but still old enough to comprehend reading a young adult fiction. The book was titled, The Summer of the Sky Blue Bikini. I have long since looked for that book in my adult years, as I would love to sit and re-read one of my most favored reads every. But, alas, I have yet to find it. We had a small creek that was behind my house, it was just a small hike through some deep woods, but definitely worth the trek down to it. There was this bend in the creek that had this huge rock tucked in the curve that made a perfect place to sit and watch the water streaming by. It was deep enough in the woods that there was such a sense of peace and solace, yet it was close enough to the house that my parents never concerned with us being down there for hours on end. I would often take me a treasured book down to the creek and assemble myself comfortably on the rock in the bend. I would take in the serenity of my surroundings. The ferns, the moss, and the babbling of the water racing past me. Then, I would sink into my treasured book. During my teenaged years, it was mostly a Stephen King masterpiece. I would sit and read until the light of the sun was getting just about too dark to see to get home. Then, I would reluctantly make my way back out of the woods and back to reality.

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