Last week I wrote about looking forward into the new year. But this week I’ve spent a lot of time looking back. Not just looking back to 2015, but looking waaayyy back. Because this week I’ve had the privilege to spend time with the people I grew up with as a child and as a teenager.
These are the kids who were my first friends. We played together day after day until we were finally old enough to go to school. Our neighborhood was newly developed and each small home was occupied by its original owner – a young married couple having babies. In the early years our street was unpaved and there were drainage ditches along each side of the road. While this may sound unappealing or unhealthy to some, it merely provided a place for us to imagine adventures as we played. We never tired of watching for cars and then jumping into the dry ditches to hide from them.
The days were spent running from one yard to another, swinging on swings, catching lightning bugs and mosquito hawks (a.k.a. fireflies and dragonflies), searching for doodle bugs and water bugs and catching uncountable numbers of lizards. We would run through the laundry hanging from the line in the back yard. And the chain link fences separating the yards were really quite useless as we thought nothing of jumping over them in a few seconds.
We didn’t know what air-conditioning was at the time and could sometimes overhear our neighbors’ business. We could especially enjoy one of our neighbor’s beautiful baritone voice as he would sing a block away.
There would be great excitement when a family would buy some new appliance – a washer or refrigerator. Not that we kids cared about the appliance, but the large box was full of endless possibilities for play.
As the years passed we went to various schools by day, but every afternoon we were back outside to play and talk and continue our friendships. These are the kids I grew out of childhood and became a teenager with. Playing games and catching bugs evolved into playing records and catching each other. By one count our little neighborhood numbered fifty teenagers back then. Most Friday and Saturday nights were spent in someone’s garage playing the latest 45’s, dancing and discussing who had a crush on who this week. These are the kids who shared my high school dances with me. These are the kids who shared rides in cars, “spin-the-bottle”, teenage anguish and acne with me. These are the kids who shared secrets with me – secrets we still hold close today.
Today these kids are in their sixth and seventh decades of life. We are more likely to be caring for our parents than for our own kids, at least for those who still have parents living. We are becoming in-laws and grandparents with each passing year, and sadly there are a few of us missing. We have multiple professional careers, own a wide variety of businesses and are easing our way into retirement. Some still live in that old part of town that didn’t even have a name when we played there; most have moved to other places. But when we gather together we are still kids. We laugh about the way things were, we tell stories on each other, and amazingly we slip right back into those old roles and behaviors we displayed decades ago. We look at old pictures and ask “Who’s that?”, only to be told it is us – and then we laugh even louder.
So, yes, this week I’ve been looking back. But not in a sad way. Yes, there’s a sweet sentimental feeling to these old memories, but mostly there’s thankfulness. Thankfulness for people who have known me through all my seasons of life and yet still want to get together to love, encourage and support each other through another year.
With much love to the Moss Lane Gang!!