Saturday, September 13, 2014

Homesick for a Time That Never Was

The past couple of days, we've had the most glorious crisp autumn weather, while the Farmer's Almanac is forecasting a brutal winter, punctuated by the fact that snow is already falling in parts of the country.   The air has been crisp and slightly cool, and it gives sunset a golden nostalgic glow.

I'm not sure whether to attribute that to my polarized sunglasses, necessary because my eyes are far too light- and glare-sensitive, or just my good fortune to exist in something beautiful for a few stolen moments.   I keep hoping to hang onto them, but since I've been an adult, autumn lasts only a week, and then everything is dead and ugly.  

It does make my mind wander back to my childhood, thinking that days like today should be filled by playing in crunchy, colorful leaf piles, collecting brightly hued fallen leaves to wonder at, and smelling the woody scent of a bonfire at night, wrapped in a cozy blanket and roasting marshmallows and hot dogs, drinking spiced cider.

Then I realize that was something I pulled out of a movie, because I do remember being told to throw my beautiful leaves away, and there were never any family bonfires. I remember that Halloween was a night when we would definitely have pizza delivered for dinner, because my sister and I were going out trick-or-treating in the neighborhood.  Yes, of course we were alone, by the time I was seven.  By that time, my dad was working in Memphis, so he stayed in his apartment there all week, and when he occasionally came home on the weekends, he was too tired to do anything other an catch up on his rest. I do remember him reading me "The Devil and Daniel Webster" on one of those weekends, though.  After that he worked a third shift job, eight shifts a week, and he was asleep when we were home from school.  

Still, I catch myself daydreaming of autumn afternoons that never happened. No fresh-baked cookies  for after-school snacks (as a latchkey kid, I always wondered if people really did that outside of 50s sitcoms), no milk drinking allowed other than from breakfast cereal and occasional cookies for a bedtime snack,  though we were allowed saccharin-sweetened iced tea. It was hideous tasting.  I often suspected that was done to discourage us from drinking the tea, too. But then there came the news about saccharin causing cancer and we got to go back to sugar-sweetened iced tea.

I often think of parents making Halloween costumes of their kids, decorating for the holiday.  Walking to all the spookily decorated houses like I did when I was little.  Those were the days when all the kids roamed the neighborhood until ten pm if Halloween fell on a weekend.  My old neighborhood is all but dead now.  

I suppose that what I daydream of is what I'd planned to do if I'd had kids, but that never worked out.  For those in-your-face Christians out there, you can smugly say that was God's plan for me.  Of course I believe in God... I've seen enough of Hell already in my life to know God must exist too.  No, kids aren't part of my life and that doesn't mean I want to babysit other people's kids now that I've gotten that desire out of my heart and filled it with art projects and learning new skills.  Sorry, I guess I'm just not planning on being used as someone's general dogsbody. I decided a few years ago that I because I was the only one concerned about my own happiness, I wouldn't ask anyone's permission to use my own time as I see fit.

Maybe when I have great nieces and great nephews in my life I'll regain an appreciation for snotty, drooling baby faces and stinky diapers during occasional visits.  I'll stick to enjoying the older kids for now, and making strangers' babies laugh at me from a distance. 

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