We woke up at 2:30 this morning to unexpected snow falling. Again. I've had enough snow in the past couple of weeks to last me a lifetime. How do people who live in Buffalo or Duluth or Point Barrow cope with snow for months on end? Or, in Point Barrow which is in Alaska, the almost-24-hours of darkness thru the winter months? I guess if that's what you're born to you get used to it. Well, not even so much get used to it but taking it as the norm because you have nothing else to compare it to. Having grown up on the fringes of the Olympic Rain Forest in Washington State, I know what I'm talking about. For the first 12 years of my life I lived in a climate where it rained about 300 days out of the year. And in the winter months, if it wasn't raining, it seemed to be 'misting'. Fog rolled across the blacktop of the playground at school. My friends and I used to pretend we were horses and we'd 'gallop' thru the fog...in our minds, it was ocean surf. Goofy, the things kids can come up with. The lack of four distinct seasons used to drive my Mom crazy. She'd grown up in New England before moving out to the Pacific Northwest with my dad as a new bride. She used to say our four seasons out here were rain, rain, rain, and more rain. But for someone like me, born to it, it was just the way it was. We kids adapted. Rain never stopped us.
Why do we lose the magic of childhood as we grow older? When do we become cynical? Complacent? Unimaginative? When does our sense of the pure enjoyment of living leave us? Why do we lose the ability to 'play'...to pretend? Can you remember when you no longer wanted to play...or know how to play anymore? I do. It was after my family had moved away from my hometown. We'd returned for a visit and I went over to my childhood best friend Angela's house. I was 13, she was 10 -- the little sister I never had. She wanted to play Barbie so we sat down on her bedroom floor, setting out all of her Barbie dolls, clothes, and other paraphernalia. And all of a sudden I put the doll I held in my hands down and stated, "I don't want to play any more." And that was it.
Memory is a funny thing. At a get together a few years back with two of my brothers, I was telling a story whose history I shared with my older brother. As I was telling it...or trying to...he kept interrupting me and saying, "No, it happened this way" and he'd continue on to tell his version of it. Finally, I looked at him and told him, "Well, maybe it happened to you that way but it didn't happen to me. So please let me tell it the way I remember it from my perspective." Well, that shut him up. The thing is, any of us can have shared moments in time. But depending on how each of us was feeling or thinking...how connected or disconnected we were to it...has a lot to do in how we remember things individually. As my brother and I shared our versions, it was apparent we'd both been there at the same time and experienced the same thing...but it affected us both so differently. That is why I find the human mind so fascinating.
I don't dream about my childhood as much as I used to, not by a long shot. But every now and then I do. And even tho I know most of my childhood friends are 54 or 55 years old now, I never saw most of them again after I moved away. That was 42 years ago. When I dream of them we're all still 9 or 10 or 12. They've never aged. We're still playing at recess or walking down the school halls in a building that no longer exists...my old school was torn down maybe 5 or 10 years ago. Where it stood is nothing but a grassy field now. Dreams are funny things, too. Because no matter how many years go by, no matter how far I travel away or how old I get, sometimes I still get to see Angela and Ruthie and Donny and Mike as they once were. I get to go back. And I remember....oh, how I remember!...those beautiful, carefree days of my childhood.