As an only child I got to spend a lot of time with me myself and I. Of course there was the occasional imaginary friend, sometimes even imaginary brothers and sisters. I often wonder how I may have turned out differently if I had had real brothers, sisters and more friends my own age around.
I've always been social. My mom told me that when I started pre-school, that instead of crying and the separation anxiety that many children have, I raced off to join the other kids. I have some good memories from preschool. Yes, I really do remember quite a lot from age two forward, perhaps because I had so much time to myself to contemplate everything, but I won't get too cerebral in this post or at least I'll try not to. It was a private Christian day care center and I remember the most popular toy that all the kids vied for time with was the "light bright" Anyone remember that? It was a board that lit up and had holes where you could put different colored bulbs to form pictures. I believe there were two of them in the classroom and that the play time was limited so that each child could have a turn.
I had my first boyfriend at this school. His name was Ricky. He had blond curls and a mischievous smile, and I sometimes wonder whatever happened to him. To be honest, he was possibly the best relationship I've ever had. We had a lot of fun together, especially at nap time, when neither one of us wanted to actually sleep. Instead we would whisper and make signs to each other, getting in trouble more than once. They were quite strict about nap time. They wouldn't even let you lie there silently and imagine designs in the popcorn ceiling. You must shut your eyes! I didn't do that very well and it was the one time I remember being sent to the principles office. A principle who was rightly fired soon after. Ricky and I were on cots in the office together and the principle had one of those, that would now be illegal, wooden paddles with holes in it for maximum effect. He showed it to us and we were to lay quietly on our cots with our eyes shut or he would use it. His secretary came around from time to time to make sure our peepers stayed closed. I guess I was a little more easily intimidated than Ricky, because I would squeeze my eyes shut when I heard her start making her way around to me. I felt bad that I hadn't stood by him more, especially when I heard the paddle come down on him. I don't think I ever saw Ricky after that day. I'm sure there ha been marks left and his mother probably pulled him out of the school immediately.
I also acquired an apreciation for music in preschool. I remember the music teacher. Linda, who wore a calico dress (Yes it was the 1970's) and she played acoustic guitar. After that I really wanted a guitar too and I as given one, only it was electric and I didn't like the way it looked or sounded. I was about 35 before I actually acquired an acoustic guitar and I wish I could say I've learned to play it, but I rarely take time to get it out except for some occasional strumming. It seems that the days as an adult are far too short and always filled with too much business, yet I rarely feel I accomplish as much as I want to.
What happened to all the time, I wonder that there used to be in a day. Didn't they used to be longer?
Let me see, what else do I remember. Oh yes! There was a, what was to me then, a mysterious door in the hallway outside the pre-school classes. I remember the older school children, wearing uniforms, and disappearing behind it. I believe the school went through 6th grade. It was a door I only remember getting to pass through twice. What it actually was, was a stairway that led up to a chapel. I guess pre-schoolers didn't qualify for chapel though, but they did take us up there to show cartoons on an old reel to reel. I had to wait for Sunday for church and Sunday school, which was my favorite day of the week!
My best friend Amy lived next door to the church. I remember playing hide and seek with her and her older sister and the game "Operation" that they had. I don't think her sister liked us to play with it though. I also recall that we weren't supposed to play in the basement, of course we did. Right behind their house was the mortuary and across the street an old hotel. I remember people used to sit up on the roof of the mortuary to watch fourth of July fireworks as they were shot off from a barge out in the inlet. Like Ricky, I sometimes wonder what happened to Amy. I still have an old birthday card from her for my 4th or is it my 5th birthday? I'll have to check. Her family moved away to California before Kindergarten though and instead of going back to the private church school, my parents had moved out of town to a big wooded lot and I wound up in public school with no best friend. It was actually a really sad year. I was bored out of my skull! They wanted to teach me the ABC's and I was writing my name two years prior. Give me a break! There were seriously moments I thought I would die of boredom. I did have a boyfriend again, for awhile anyway. His name was Ruben, but it didn't last, unlike Ricky, he was too needy and I dumped him. Yep. I actually dumped him. I wonder if I would have done that if I had known how long it would be before I'd have another boyfriend? No. I needed someone more adventurous like Ricky.
Though there weren't a lot of other kids near where we had moved there was a girl a year older and her brother who was a year younger, that lived a ways down the street. If she reads this, please keep in mind our age at the time and don't be offended, but I thought she was a wimp. Her little brother on the other hand, while not quite up to Ricky standard, did have some sense of adventure and we used to run away from her and hide back in the woods off old logging trails. There was one time though, she had come to visit and I remember zipping her in a tent to keep her there so I wouldn't be alone. I really didn't like playing alone so much. When I was about four, my cousin Justin came to visit and I remember having so much fun with him that I hid his toy truck, hoping that his parents wouldn't make him leave without it. Sorry Justin. I think I still have it somewhere. It was hidden behind my grandparents bed.
On the plus side, being alone so much, meant I spent extra time with God. Yes, Jesus probably became my best friend at an early age, simply because I had no one else to play with. And I loved Sunday school because it was the one place where I was around other children who were actually nice to me. A lot of the kids in public school were bullies and I really never learned to deal with that. I still avoid bullies when I can.
It's interesting though, when I think back, how much those early years really formed who I am today. While I like to think I've matured from hiding toy trucks and zipping people up in tents to try and keep them with me. I still would rather be with people. Some alone time is important too, but I'd rather have it tipped toward the more time with people. And Ricky, if you happen to be out there and still single, well...who knows?