Something awfully weird happened to me today. I was driving Miss 8 to her piano lesson and chose to drive down one of my childhood streets. As I drove down the street, a wave of emotion washed over me and before I knew it, tears had sprung to my eyes.
Those streets were the scenes to some of my favourite childhood memories. You see, it’s not often you get to move directly across the street from your best friend, and when you’re twelve going on thirteen, it’s basically the equivalent of winning the lottery!
It’s not to say every memory from those formative teenage years are all wonderful, they weren’t. There were very crappy times too, and I think if I didn’t have my BFF across the road I’m not sure if I’d have made it through. But it’s the good times that stick with me.
Times of rollerskating, sleepovers, secret letters, shooting goals on the front lawn and playing tennis on the road. Talking about boys, and the ups, but mostly downs, of our complicated families. We navigated crazy female hormones, broken hearts, and times where we didn’t speak to each other, as is the nature of such a tight friendship. But, thankfully today, I can say our friendship has lasted the test of time; she is still my closest friend.
The only other time that comes close to evoking such emotion, are the last couple of years of high school. Again, they were tumultuous times, some of the worst of my life. But, on the other hand, some of the best. Great friends, fun times, pushing boundaries, thinking we were bullet proof and kings of the world. There were boys, parties, music, and many firsts. I was also incredibly naive, stupid, and did some awfully regretful things, but I still look back and long for those times.
I wonder why we look back so fondly and often pang for our childhood. It doesn’t take much to rewind. It might be a song coming on the radio that transports us back to our teenage self. Or we see an old TV show, an old advertisement, or remember our childhood favourite food. Even if those times weren’t all carefree (and whose childhood was perfect anyway?), we still feel sentimental for days gone by.
Is it because we feel life was so much simpler then? We didn’t have the responsibilities of adulthood weighing us down, nor did most things we do have far-reaching consequences. Is it because the world seemed so much smaller? The news was something our parents watched at 6pm, not something that screamed at us from computers, smart phones and TVs all day long. Or maybe it’s because in some of those memories we are our true selves, long before the world tattoos us with expectation.
My favourite childhood memories aren’t remarkable. They are in fact unremarkable. Such as rollerskating up and down the driveway, singing along to Debbie Gibson and Tiffany with my BFF. But, there was no expectation, no responsibility, nowhere to be. Just us, enjoying life the only way we knew how.
Apart from the feelings that my children bring me, these times in my life arouse the most emotion. An emotion that begins in the pit of my stomach and slowly rises, swelling my heart, tightening my chest and forming a lump in my throat. I often wonder if I should write a young adult story, the emotions are so strong. But until then, if you see me misty eyed and far away, it’s most likely I’m rollerskating up that driveway yet again.
What is your all-time favourite childhood memory?