Yes, those are lucky charms. Yes, that was my dinner. Yes, I still like the marshmallows best. ‘Nuff said.
No birthday is ever the same. No birthday past the age of 13 is very exciting. Childhood birthdays are the best. Long sunny days spent in a bathing suit, falling asleep under the cool ceiling fan, my wet beach towel chilling my skin.
Popsicles were the air conditioning of choice, pizza was the birthday dinner of choice, gift-opening was the entertainment of choice. (My siblings would argue that my “practiced” facial expressions for each opened present was the real entertainment.)
Some of the presents I remember from my favorite birthday: a sleeping bag, (we were campers) a Swiss Army knife, (from my dad, the Eagle Scout) and a pink and teal bike (worn with spandex… which was totally and completely in style at the time).
Life was good. Tree climbing, hammock swinging, insects biting, fence hopping, bike riding, bedtime avoiding, pool swimming, roller blading, wound bandaging. Life was good.
Party hats in pink, ice cream cakes from Dairy Queen melted on my paper plate; summer birthdays are the best.
As an adult, my birthday was spent very differently. I went to work, quietly took phone calls from each sibling and parent, and promised to call them later. A quiet lunch with my husband, a walk with the dog, a peach belini, dinner at Red Lobster, and an early bedtime.
I miss the swatting flies, barefoot running, outside playing days.
I’d give anything to spend a few days in my childhood again.
Happy birthday to me.
As you faithful readers know, this is not a poetry hub whatsoever. I’ve fallen in love with memoirs, but still think it would be worth it to share some of my older poems.
Published by Threshold Creative Arts Magazine 2010
Childhood is not from birth to a certain age.
Childhood is the kingdom-hood in which no soul dies.
Die, one who imagined fables
and danced in day dreams
with ribbons snapping in the wind,
toes wiggling deeper into the sand.
Die, one who played with kittens
and gave voices to puppets;
Who cannot be said
to have witnessed it all.
But you do not wake suddenly
in the middle of the night
blanket in your mouth.
At what point do you shove the tear-stained bear
between the bed and the wall,
and forget about it?
To be grown up is to sip bold wine with
stiff-bodied poem quoters in tall backed chairs.
I watch my daughter brave her divorce:
she cries into the silk couch pillows.
She drowns in her bottle of vodka,
due to the loss of her childhood.
Did I allow my daughter
I didn’t award myself?
Your tea is cold now.
You can barely stand up
without leaning on your cane.
This is a topic I planned to write about a while ago. It was recently featured on the post-a-day blog by WordPress, and I later saw a prompt for the topic on the NaBloPoMo site. It’s been nagging at me ever since.
If I could pick any super power, what would it be? Maybe I would want to read people’s minds. Freeze time? Turn anything I see into money or chocolate? What about if I had the ability to stretch like Mrs. Incredible, so I could pick up a glass of water in the kitchen, while I sat lazily on the couch?
None of the above. My super power of choice would be instant time travel. Since I was little, I wanted this super power, but in 2006 I picked up a random book at a used book store called The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. At that time, it was an unkown story, and nowhere near becoming a major motion picture. I simply loved the book, the author’s creativity, and writing style. That very same copy has made many moves with me ever since, and I believe even more firmly that I want to instant time travel.
Here’s how it would go if I could instant time travel:
The very first place I would go would be to the Western U.S. to visit family. Although I’ve qualified for a free airline ticket with Southwest airlines, I’d get there faster (and for free) with my super power.
Unlike the book, when I travel, I want to be able to take things with me. I don’t think I’d much like to wind up naked and empty-handed in the middle of the street, a festival, or a shopping mall. It’s just not my style.
Instead, I would take gifts to the elderly, clean drinking water to orphans and starved human beings in other countries, and food to the poor in poverty-stricken inner cities.
I would also be able to take people with me, such as my husband. We really would be able to travel the world. We would hold hands, wiggle our noses, think magic thoughts, and *poof,* we’d arrive. England, Australia, Hawaii, and France would be at the top of my list.
This super power would also come in handy during the morning and afternoon commutes to work. Imagine that I worked at the same company as my neighbor. On Monday morning, we both leave our front porch at the same time, but as he sits in hours of traffic, I get ahead on my work, and score a well-deserved promotion.
Think of all the places I could go in a week! I could spend weekends in New York City, evenings on the coast of California, Wednesdays with the in-laws, Thursdays shoe shopping in Italy.
Assuming I could get back, I would also be interested in time-traveling. I would visit the 1940’s to watch my grandparents fall in love. I would visit the simple life of the 1950’s. I might even visit my parents in the 80’s to overhear the conversation “I think we should try for another baby (me)…” but I would ska-daddle LONG before they put that plan into action.
Then I would go back so far in time, that I would be the first inhabitant of Hawaii, and I would make myself a hammock, and melt into the memory of the sand.
It was a beautiful Spring day in Colorado, and I had just helped Mom bake cookies. I was tall enough and old enough that I could reach the counters just fine, so I helped stir in the ingredients with a wooden spoon. I loved to taste the difference the vanilla added to the premature dough, but my favorite part of baking cookies was (of course) licking off the beaters. Mom made me wait until she said I could have them and then I’d pinch my pointer finger and thumb together, and run them up the side of the beater. The dough would pile up on my fingers, but I couldn’t wait to taste it. Into my mouth it went.
Mom used to set aside a Dixie brand cup of dough, just for her. Dad would smell the cookies in the oven, walk by the kitchen, and sneak a spoonful of dough out of the Dixie cup. Then he’d go back to his office, knowing full well what he’d just done. Mom ignored the dough theft as we laughed and giggled and sang and loved each other.
For some reason that evening, I got upset. Knowing me, I probably did something wrong and subsequently got in trouble. In fact, I was probably only mad that I had been caught, not that I had done something wrong. I was a mad 9-year-old sitting in my room, brooding, trying to decide what type of reaction I would get if I ran away for a few days. I was reminded of the time my sister and her friend ran away from our home in New York. At the time, we lived in a small town south of Rochester, where the houses were spread far apart with acres of land. The next day was rocket-launching day in fifth-grade Science class. My sister and her friend were in the side yard painting their cardboard rockets, when they ran out of spray paint. It was Sunday, and in our house, we didn’shop on Sundays. The girls got mad that they couldn’t buy more paint, so they ran away as the sun was setting behind the fields.
They disappeared for a few hours, and my parents really started to worry. Fortunately for them, an old man and his wife found the girls, and when they started to cry that they were lost and scared, they brought them back home.
What was so significant about my sister running away was that my parents allowed it (not thinking they would go far) to teach them a lesson. There is even a picture in our family photo album of the two girls with their arms around each other, while simultaneously hanging onto their hiking backpacks, and hand-carved walking sticks. They were wearing acid-washed cut-off shorts, and hiking shoes. The photo was snapped right before they took off on their “journey” of running away from home.
No one thought they would go far. In fact, I personally didn’t think they’d go much farther than the mile-long driveway we had. We are not athletes in our family, and my sister would hate a long, strenuous journey. So I didn’t think it would be a big deal. But the girls did go far, and because they went far, because they were lost, and because strangers returned the two girls home, it was a big deal. The reaction my sister got from my parents was huge and memorable. She was loved and hugged and kissed (and grounded) when she returned, and the house was full of “We’re so glad you are ok,” and “We missed you,” and “Please don’t ever do that again, we were so scared.” The neighbors who had gathered to help look for the girls were relieved, and sent home to their awaiting families.
As I recalled my sister’s great escape, I decided that I, too, would run away. I would teach my mom and dad a lesson, and then I would be loved and hugged and kissed on when I got home.
I quickly shoved my teddy bear in my black backpack, rolled up some socks, and a blanket on which to lay. I had been hiding a pack of cinnamon Extra gum in my sock drawer, and I shoved that in there, too. In went my porcelain ballerina from my Grandma, and my silver spoon “collection” (though I only had a few states’ spoons). I tied up my tennis shoes, and put on my neon pink/orange/green reflective wind-breaker, and headed out through the kitchen to the back door. I realized at that point, that I might get hungry while away, and I stuck a few cans of soup and a few cans of tuna fish in my back pack.
Quietly, I closed the back door behind me, and the mildly chilly air swept across my face as I turned to leave my home for the last time ever. Or so I thought. I got a few steps away, and went back to get the can opener.
My plan was to spend the night under the massive evergreen tree across the street. It was getting dark, and I didn’t want to go too far the first night. Also, I wanted to watch the search party gather and hear my name called as they looked for me.
The tree was tall, and had long, luscious arms that hung down so low, they gently swept the ground. It was a perfect place to hide, where I could watch my family start their search for me. I just hoped that my neighbor didn’t notice my reflective wind-breaker, and ruin my plan.
My plan worked. No one spotted me under the tree. I spent what seemed like a few months -in all actuality, it was probably closer to about one and a half hours- under the tree, and kept thinking, “At any moment, they will start the search party. I will see them walk outside with their flashlights, and I will hear them call my name.” I stared at my invitingly lit-up house. Where was my family? Why was no one looking for me?
I didn’t give up. I pulled out my spoon collection, polishing each one with my extra socks. I chewed my cinnamon gum, and rubbed each silver wrapper with my fingers until the silver part fell off. My teddy bear sat on my lap, and I sang a song and made the ballerina dance. Soon, I grew bored that no one was looking for me yet. I was certain this was not how I remembered my sister’s experience when she ran away from home.
I decided it would be best if I returned home for the night. I didn’t want to admit to myself that I was defeated, but I gathered up my things, and counted to 100, just in case the search party commenced. 1…2…3…55…56…57…98…99…100… no search party.
Pushing the front door open, I stomped my feet clean as hard and loud as I could. Mom looked up from the couch, her current sewing project in her lap. “Oh, there you are sweetheart,” she said happily. “I ran away.” I declared as angrily as possible. She asked me why, and invited me to sit by her on the couch. I told her why, and also that I was mad no one came looking for me. She smiled and said to me, simply this: “I thought you were in your room.”
Now, I know my mom well, and I know that she was most likely aware of where I was the entire time I was gone. When I was even younger, she would catch me doing something bad, (yes, I was always in trouble) and then she’d tell me she caught me with the eyes in the back of her head. One day, as I brushed her pretty brown hair, I peeked around and looked, but didn’t see the extra set of eyes. Even still, she was super-mom, and always knew the whereabouts of her children.
So even though I planned the run-away to be a lesson for my mom and dad, the lesson was really on me. I liked my family and was loved at home, and I didn’t really want to leave.