Friday, April 14, 2006

H is for.....

Happiest Childhood Memories

Some discussion has been going around work, about happy childhood memories. I don't know what it is about spring that makes people want to share their happy memories, but here we are. People are laughing and remembering, and I am kind of slinking away into the shadows a little bit. No one wants to hear my childhood memories.

Memories that involve a father who could've cared less that he had 5 children, and took his wife for granted and then after years of misery and fighting told her he wanted a divorce on the day her only daughter moved out. No one wants to hear that he made her go back to work when the children were in elementary school, and the oldest of the group.. me.. was left to take care of 4 brothers, make sure homework was done and start dinner every night. Memories that hide painful secrets, and poor self esteem and fears and about a million other dark and dismal feelings. No one. I may have had a better childhood than some, and some parts of it might have been ok, but mostly I don't like to talk about it. I've done a pretty good job of "getting over it" and I try to keep it buried where it belongs.. in the past.

I've done a pretty good job at avoiding the discussions.. until today. I figure after this week we'll be done with this nonsense and move onto something else... and I tried to fake a "oh I don't have time right now" answer. But of course it didn't work. I wracked my brain trying to think of the last happy memory I have from childhood.

I found myself in the summer before Jr. High. I was an emotional wreck. I was on the tail end of the worst period in my life up until that point (and all things considered, until now even) and I was ready to just give up. I felt worthless, lonely, unloved, ashamed, unhappy and just plain miserable. On top of that my body was changing and I was getting ready to start Jr. High with kids from all over town that I didn't know. If God could've come down and taken me away, I would've cried tears of joy and gone without a glimpse back.

My father decided he wanted to go fishing in the great lakes. My mother decided that it would be a great chance for a family vacation, and we found ourselves camping up at Lake Ontario for 2 weeks. Selkirk Shores State Park to be exact. I wasn't sure if I wanted to go. The best part of the whole trip was going to be that my dad's best friends daughters were coming. Twins that were about a year-ish younger than me. I figured if nothing else I could hang out with them the whole time and hey it wasn't home and at that point in my life, anywhere that wasn't home was great.
Some of my best memories are from those camping trips. We went three summers in a row. Each time we went for two weeks.. and each time with the same people. I spent hours on that pier to the left, fishing, talking, reflecting on what was going on in my life, and just enjoying the stillness. In the summer they put life guard chairs out on that peir and you can jump off them to go swimming. On a chance that you happen to be there during a rocking thunderstorm that churns up the lake, you can find fabulous treasures on it when the water ebbed out and returned to it's usual state.

We met other kids that were at the park the same times we were. Several of them we saw year to year and formed strong friendships with. Others came into our lives for two weeks, and then were gone. We had a freedom at the lake that we didn't have at home. As long as someone knew where we were, we could be there. There is something incredibly healing about water, and being in and near it.

I shared with my friends at work about camping up at Lake Ontario in August, and the fabulous friends I made and the wonderful meteor showers we would see, and expressed my hope that this year I will be able to take my own children there. I'd like to share some of the magic with them.

(*note, photos courtesy of Google. Big thanks to the photographers*)

1 comment:

Julia Ann White said...

I felt your much guarded pain...and what made it even more intense, yet, more painful for me "FOR YOU" was... you were holding back 99% of the REAL PAIN (in this blog posting)...I knew WHAT you meant..WHERE you were...and THE DESTINATION you WANTED to go TO...I know those words I know that language..I was so happy to see those pictures and read that you had raw beauty in BEAUTIFUL ONTARIO to keep you grounded. Even as a kid you knew it was going to ultimately be ok. That is deep...deep deep deep. Yes..your emotion was felt in Washington at 10:28am.