Classic History Personal Blog

Growing Up

Childhood

Its not just nostalgia, every day was like Christmas in the neighborhood I grew up in on the edge of a small town in America. Its not easy to describe the feeling of all of us playing street hockey, building things in the woods, and hanging out in someone's bedroom listening to all the new music together as soon as it came out. It was a strong sense of community and fun, a feeling that nothing truly bad was going to happen in the foreseeable future.

There were a million new things to try or do and we would all experience them together. When I went out in the woods to work on our forts, I never went alone. Every evening me and my friends would ride our bikes or roller blades around the neighborhood. In the summer we would visit our homes one by one and eat ice cream at each one. Most everyone else who lived there walked in the evenings as well, so almost everyone knew each other.

There was always some new game or new song coming out. Always something to look forward to and I distinctly remember many nights when I just didn't want to stop and go to sleep. Sometimes I felt this so strongly that I would climb out my bedroom window and just sit outside or lay in bed listening to music. In the winter we would dump water in the low spot in the yard so we had a sheet of ice to slide on. One year in boyscouts we built a large sled that could hold 4 people and be pulled by 6 or more. When the power went out the whole neighborhood grilled out together on our porches.

Sometimes my Uncle Tony from New York would stop by our house on his way out to Colorado to visit his son. You'd just be out in the driveway playing and he would pull in without calling or anything. We would hang out on the back porch and eat a sandwich. He would smoke a cigar and talk for a few minutes and then get back on the road. We usually talked about the family. After he left one time my friends asked me exactly how many uncles I had because he could not keep track of everyone.

When we got older we all worked and bought paintball guns. I didn't have enough money for a face mask so my dad bought me one. I might have been 14 when video games came out. For sleep overs our parents would take us to the rental store to pick a game to play for the weekend. They were fun but we all quickly grew tired of them and wanted to go back to playing outside.

We had water balloon fights complete with three man sling shots. We built ramps for our bikes and roller blades. We climbed up trees and had our friends chop them down so we could ride it all the way down. We explored the large forest next to our neighborhood and had the whole area memorized. We picked mint leaves and made tea, dug up clay and made cups, built small remote controlled cars.

We did fun things and nobody ever interrupted them with a text or phonecall. You had no compulsion to 'share' the moment on the internet somehow. You only shared it with the people who were there and perhaps a story the next day.

We were dumb kids and nobody cared. Our parents were happy to just watch us grow up having fun. A friend's dad needed to be picked up from the airport and we all went along so we could go to a hobby store together afterwords. This was when you could go through security without a plane ticket to meet someone at the gate. Because we were going to the store we all took every bit of money we had, and my friend filled every pocket of his cargo pants with all of his spare change. So when we went through airport security here was this young kid emptying endless amounts of change into trays to pass through the x-ray machine. I looked behind us and saw a long line of real adults waiting on all of this. But they were all smiling. They seemed to not mind. I did not know any of these people but I felt a sense of community with them. I didn't understand how special community was during this time of my life because it was so normal.

I have not been a father for very long at this point in my life but I already feel like I am experiencing true happiness when I come home to my wife and our son. I can see so much joy in his face whenever he discovers something new. One of my greatest memories watching him grow up (so far) is the look he had on his face the first time he realized that I was playing with him. I can only imagine how my dad must have felt watching me leave on my first road trip across the continent, perhaps wondering where I might end up.

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Originally published

Wreath

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Growing Up
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