As I am prone to do, I triggered myself with yesterday’s post in which I spoke of my longing for the past and embracing my silly, if not immature side as a defense mechanism against the corrosive environment of today. I found that this is a subject that cannot be handled in one post.
In a famous intro to Pink Floyd’s haunting Goodbye blue sky, off their magnificent album, 1979’s The Wall, we hear the voice of a child, in all its innocence and wonder exclaim,
“Look mommy, there’s an airplane up in the sky”.
The voice inevitably and necessarily throws me back to the day when the world was a place of beauty and every day was a chance to experience new things. If you were lucky enough to have your mother at your side, she would join you in marveling at the sight of the airplane, as a bonus she would help you identify clouds shaped as animals and before you knew it the sky was cluttered with joyous shapes and future memories.
Ah, precious childhood.
Today, the mother probably would be glued to her phone and mutter,’Ummhmmm, that’s nice honey” without even looking up.
The release of Pink Floyd’s album in 1979 is a powerful memory to me and may explain why that song, and that clip of the child, is so significant to me. It is around the time that I lost my youthful outlook and began to look at each day with dread and fear, not optimism and delight.
I was a notoriously happy child. I was an only child with a mother that worked part time with plenty of time to be home with me and a father that worked his ass off but denied himself sleep to make sure that he did all that he could for me. I played sports. I rode bikes with the neighborhood kids. We went camping in the summer, I went to ball games and went to the park. I loved hanging with my grandparents at their house. We had a big yard. When my parents were unable to occupy and amuse me (something parents feel obligated to do these days) I was able to amuse myself by playing with Matchbox cars in the dirt or voraciously reading books under my favorite tree. Sometimes I would just lie on my back looking at the clouds. I could do it for hours.
As the years of my childhood passed, the toys changed but my attitude didn’t. I remained a happy kid,
The cheerful child in me went away around the time that I entered 7th grade. In my town grades K-6 were in Elementary and 7-9 were called Junior high (now known as middle school). I left 6th grade and the low-ceilinged and safe feeling Elementary school as a small statured but eager student and entered the high ceilings and almost anarchist hallways of the Junior High School as a terrified newbie. My fears were soon justified as the most formidable period of my life began, the age of being bullied.
It was horrifying. I was immediately attacked by the bigger and meaner kids. I didn’t fight back as I was slammed into lockers and sheepishly retrieved the books that were knocked out of my hands as I was walking down the halls. I became an easy target and other kids took a shot at me. I didn’t tell anyone, instead I retreated into myself. The gregarious kid eager for friends, the student eager for knowledge soon became a quiet, nonparticipating C student who sat in the back of the class doodling in his notebook. It was a horrible time of my life and I never recovered academically, socially or emotionally. I hated school, I constantly tried to call in sick and I became a sullen and mostly joyless teenager.
At the age of 55 I look back and know without dwelling on specifics how different my life would have been if I had not retreated into a turtle shell. But many years ago I learned to stop placing blame and acknowledged that there are no do-overs in life and time travel in Delorean’s is not a real option yet. I have shed the resentment for those characters that caused such heartache. I had to. It was weighing me down. I have largely forgiven them and myself. Happily, I have found and embraced the much younger version of me as a way of dealing with the current realities of my life.
The other day I was detailing a car and I was overcome by the heat. I stopped to take a break and sat on my steps with a cold glass of water, catching my breath. Exhausted, I laid on my back. I took a moment to look at the beautiful sky above me. The wispy clouds gently danced before me as they slowly made a pass over me. I reveled in their beauty. I embraced how small and ordinary the world must look from up there. I felt like a kid again, a kid without a care in the world. A kid who saw bunnies and teddy bears in the beautiful blue oasis above.
Look Mommy, I see a airplane up in the sky…