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Karin Fuller: Memories from my childhood

July 29, 2018

Sometimes you don’t have to travel far to feel as though you’ve been on a trip. Recently, I accompanied my neighbor and her twin grandchildren to the playground. While my friend stepped away briefly to answer a call, I leaned back on the bench and watched the kids. They had the entire place to themselves.

A girl sat on one swing, and a boy on the other. The boy contently dragged his toes in the dirt as she chattered away. She twisted her swing, the chains clanking as they wound, then she raised her feet off the ground. Her swing untangled and spun her suddenly around.

Watching them, I could remember too well exactly how those times felt. The rushing wind as I leaned back in the swing with my legs extended, waiting for just the right moment to jump. Always testing how far I could go. I flexed my feet, closed my eyes. Recalled the feel of damp dirt against them, remembered the way mud would squish in between my toes.

From there, my mind continued to wander. Fragments of childhood pelted me in a most pleasant way:

Spinning in circles until woozy, falling on my back in the grass, feeling it damp and cool and itchy against my skin ...

Turning over rocks at the edge of the creek, looking for crawdads ...

The taste of not-quite-ripe green apples picked straight from the tree ...

Counting how many times my rocks skipped across the water ...

Scavenging wood and raiding junk piles for stuff we could use to make other stuff ...

The taste of still-soupy homemade ice cream before it frozen all the way ...

Putting on plays on our deck with my friends ...

School carnivals with their cakewalks and haunted houses, winning goldfish in Ziploc bags ...

Chinese handcuffs, Pixie Stix, wax lips and vampire teeth ...

Running in flip-flops ...

Fireflies in jelly jars with punched lids...

Legs dangling over the edge of the little wooden bridge, the one always smelling of creosote ...

Spending hours designing the ultimate tree house ...

Drinking from the water hose ...

Looking for four-leaf clovers ...

Saturday morning cartoons ...

Grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato soup ...

Walking my bare feet up the wall while lying sideways on the bed, talking on the phone...

Pulling the center from a honeysuckle bloom, trying to taste that tiny drop of nectar ...

Arguing over who was going to be the banker at Monopoly ...

Bee stings and splinters ...

Cherry Kool-Aid ...

The smell of Love’s Baby Soft ...

Licking the swirl off the top of a Dairy Queen ice cream cone ...

My reverie was broken by my neighbor plopping back down beside me on the bench.

“You looked like you were far, far away,” she said.

“Decades,” I said.

We stayed until the darkness began inching our way, then we ushered fragrant kids to the car. They had played hard. And, in a long ago way, so had I.

Karin Fuller can be reached via email at karinfuller@gmail.com.

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