I was five when my family was moved from Levittown, PA to Ridgefield, CT.
I remember Levittown like flash cards. I hold them up in my mind and have some clear, some shadowed memories. Metal yellow kitchen cabinets. Running around naked at two so my mother could toilet train her last child. Blind-man’s-Bluff with my brother which led to getting stitched. There is a clear memory of kissing the television when JFK was on because my older siblings told me it was our Dad and I believed them. I remember singing to my mother’s flower beds. And the peach tree which oozed goo that stuck to my small hands, and face, and clothes.
Then my parents needed to find a house and since my brother and sister were in school already, I got to go on a trip with my parents all by myself. Stayed in the Danbury Motel and to keep me busy as they drove around looking for a house I got to pick out my first book (all mine, no one else had read it, fresh pages, stiff binding). Dr. Seuss’ A B C’s.
From the age of five until I was sixteen my family and I lived in Ridgefield, CT. In the mid-sixties we lived in a nondescript ranch on over an acre of land. My playground was a bunch of lawn and trees and boulders. And there were others around to roam creeks and swamp. . . whisper tales about the doings in various houses. . . sledding and bikes and hills. Very hilly town, very steep hill we lived on. . .and I’ve the calves to prove it still.
It was years of CCD and Girl Scouts and small town (when I was young) schools with the same bunch. In Junior High we drifted a little and then in high school a little more, but there was those formative, innocent years that tied us. After my parents split up, I moved to Fall River with my mother which was a big cultural change. I suddenly had cousins, older but cousins around. An aunt who didn’t like me at all. An aunt who loved me. A grandmother who became a confident over the years.
But built inside was this block of memories, some my mother had captured in her photography but those are her visions of what was, not mine. I lost physical contact but held inside whole field trips, craft projects, camp outs, sleep overs. All two-lane roads, draped in summer shade or that new green of spring make me feel the ride to town. Ice storms and black outs. Yellow school buses. . . and for these I have double memories as I took yellow buses to summer day camp.
The other day a Geoff asked to be my FB friend with great enthusiasm. And with my fuzzy brain I’ve been trying to place him. I knew the name, remembered his personality but I had to make this geography of faces to figure out where he fit. He sent me a note just today and all the pieces fell into place.
But even writing out, “sent me a note” makes me smile for that’s what we did in school, passed notes (so now they text and it cost money!) and we were a community all our own. In late 2009 I was plagued by a deep, bleak depression. I lost, for a while, that feeling of a future and a sense of the past. I felt very alone, even in groups here in Austin. Austin is only 7 years of my life and I’m 50 (51, actually). My parents are both gone.
Then I started finding ‘friends’ old, lost, dear, found, never-lost-really, friends. I posted photos my mother took and found more friends. . . and then a town and a couple of teachers who truly shaped my life.
And these old-new-rekindled friendships, we get to be grown ups together. We are different and connected. We remember and then mention our children. And in this, I found my footing, a way of being with the past but not lost to it, nor regretting any of it. I still struggle with the concept of the future. I can feel tomorrow but not much more. I know in July I’ll go to Boston for family stuff and (hopefully) respite from Texas heat.
There’s much about Facebook that I don’t like, and even don’t trust fully. But Nina, Patti, Sharon, Karen, Tim, Cindy, Pennie, Eden, Cort, Geoff. . .and Tom B. Thank you for being my friend, you’ve made a difference just by showing up.