The things that will never make it in the baby books and other musings from a stay at home mom

Friday, August 26, 2005


Suzanne over at Mimilou tagged me for a meme last week.

This is somewhat of a first for me, as I've never really participated in memes or any other blogging sub-culture activities before. I've been doing this blogging thing for nearly a year now, but for the most part I've steered clear of the community aspect of blogging. Yes, I've made some friends along the way and discovered some people whose lives look a lot like mine (and some whose lives look very little like mine but whom I just plain enjoy). But I didn't really go looking for community when I began blogging, and I'm always a little surprised (thought pleasantly so) when I find it here.

That said, I enjoyed reading Suzanne's answers to this meme, and it seemed like a good writing exercise. Plus, as I keep mentioning, it's August and everything's harder in August, so I'll happily take an easy idea for a blog entry right now. How's that for a long winded introduction to a long winded post?

Boiler plate text: The rules to this meme game: Remove the blog at #1 from the following list and bump every one up one place; add your blog's name in the #5 spot; link to each of the other blogs for the desired cross polination effect.

1. Melody
2. -A-
3. Heather
4. Suzanne
5. Rebecca

Next: select new friends to add to the pollen count. (No obligation here, folks. Given my lack of community focused-blogging -- see above -- this is actually the most challenging part of this meme for me! Feel free to ignore if you're not a meme person... just consider this a friendly wave "hello" or something.)

1. Kristy
2. Gretchen
3. Steph
4. Dana
5. GKGirl

Let the game begin.

What 5 things do you miss about your childhood?

1. Summer Camp

Camp was the first thing that came to mind when I read this question, and as it always does, thinking of camp immediately made me smile. I spent 6 idyllic summers at Camp Golden Arrow (later renamed Sunapee Arts Camp), a very liberal artsy fartsy overnight camp in New Hampshire. The place was liberal both in ideology (I have a stunningly large repertoire of anti-war songs lodged forever in my brain for a child barely even alive at the tail end of the Vietnam War) and in organization (one memorable summer, I simply opted not to attend organized activities. A handful of friends and I spent the whole damn summer playing chinese jumprope outside my bunk and no one seemed to notice or care). I survived the rest of the year just to get to summertime so that I could be back there. The entire camp dancing around the dining hall singing "I Wanna Be Sedated" after lunch... Walking the 3/4 mile sawdust path down to the lake for a water polo match with a greased watermelon... Improv Drama classes where 12 year olds explored topics like death and peer pressure... Dance Nights on the tennis courts; first the required square dancing, then the "real" stuff, and always "Stairway To Heaven" to end the night... The smell of chemicals in the darkroom... Overnight hiking trips... There's no question that camp was the single most defining experience of my childhood. 20 years later, I still find myself reliving my camp years every night as I sing Taps to Evan before I put him in his crib.

2. My Hometown

This seems like a bizarre choice, given the fact that I spent the majority of my childhood dreaming of escaping the small Massachusetts town where I was raised. My parents moved away when I was in college and it was just fine with me not to have any reason to go back there. But lately, I don't know if it's the nostalgia for my own childhood that raising kids evokes or what, I've found myself missing the town I grew up in. I'll mentally walk through the house I grew up in and those where my friends lived when I'm trying to fall asleep at night, or I'll try to recall the exact lineup of stores in each of the local strip malls. The other night, I actually found myself giving Paul a "tour" using Google Earth. I don't know if it's the town itself I miss, or just the idea of a place being that familiar and that comfortable, but the thought of that town makes me awfully nostalgic either way.

3. Friday Night Services

As a child, going to Shabbat services with my mom was an exciting way to end the week and see my friends. The temple became such a familiar and comfortable place that even when my social life took precedence in my teen years, I still came to services with my mom; we just took 2 cars and I went out with my friends afterwards. Our congregation was small when I was growing up, and the synagogue was a friendly, unintimidating place. On a regular basis, the rabbi would call me and Eden and Ashley up to lead a song at the end of the service and we were so proud to stand up on the bimah and help him out. (Why don't I remember any other kids ever doing this? Surely we weren't the only ones...) The entire experience was less religious to me and more about community, but it gave me the foundation for a lifelong commitment to Judaism. That rabbi should be very proud.

4. Erickson's

Erickson's was a local ice cream stand one town over, a long bike trip or a short car ride away. When we were very little, my parents would bring us there in our pj's after dinner, years later, I came in carloads with my friends and with many a boyfriend. Their chocolate mint ice cream (not mint chocolate chip, but a true chocolate with mint flavor infused in it) was among the most amazing flavors I've ever tasted. And I always thought it was damn cool that they'd give you a free doggie cup of freezer burnt ice cream to bring home to your dog. Ericson's closed in the winter and there was never any official announcement when it reopened. But one day, you would just know, and when you pulled into the bumpy gravel parking lot, you would see the long lines at each screened serving window that indicated that everyone else knew, too.

5. Freedom

The other 4 items on my list are concrete memories, and this one is more vague. It's just the feeling I get when I picture being a child -- biking the 3 miles into town alone, spending hours catching frogs in the pond behind our house without a nervous chaperone, getting dropped off at the library for an hour or so and waiting on the front steps for my mom's car to pull up, wandering the neighborhood in search of a playmate, playing kick the can at twilight with boundaries a mile or so long -- being free. I don't know if people worried less or just trusted more. But I grew up loved without being smothered, equally at home in the world around me as in the house I called my own. I don't know that I'll ever be able to provide that for my own children. And my heart aches for them and all they'll miss without that freedom. They will never know what they're missing, but I will. And it makes me sad even as the memories make me smile.


At 4:30 PM, Anonymous Gretchen C. said...

Cooooool. Thanks for the shout-out, and for the childhood memories. My husband and I often talk about those childhood freedoms that would be considered negligent if we allowed them to our kids today, where every family in the neighborhood looked after every other family's kids, and if you couldn't find one, it was a matter of figuring out whose house they were at, not of calling 911. ("Have you seen my kid?" "I think they're all over at the Johnsons'!") A lost innocence, and sad to see it go.

At 5:45 PM, Blogger Kristy said...

You have a sister named Eden?? Dear god. Had Evan been a girl? Eden would have been his/her name. So much more to say, but dinner awaits.

At 6:52 AM, Blogger gkgirl said...

my first meme-thing
and great meme-ories too...

At 8:06 AM, Blogger Steph said...

Thanks for the "hello" and the memories. You had me longing for my days at summer camp in Maine, and of course, those long-gone childhood freedoms.

At 7:45 PM, Blogger Dana said...

Oooh, my first tag! Thanks for thinking of me. But, I think I'll have difficulty coming up with more people to tag since I don't think too many people read my blog. However, about the 5 things, I must say you've taken the best one: freedom. Ah, so true.

At 3:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for your memories about camp. An old camp friend pointed me to your post. I went to Sunapee Arts Camp as a kid for 5 years, and it was absolutely the most defining aspect of my youth. That place was special, unique, and fundamentally important in some intangible way. I have tried to explain it in the past to my boyfriend, and have never done it justice. Your words helped. Everyone who knows me knows about camp and my camp friends. The certain mix of people, ideals, ideas, and innate generosity of the environment created a careful balance that seems as if out of a dream. It's where I became who I am. Can you imagine such a place today?
Thank you!

At 2:15 PM, Anonymous said...

I found your blog entry when I googled Camp Golden Arrow. I was there from 1978-1980. I agree that this pretty unique camp experience left an indelible mark on my life. Even now at the age of 43 I periodically find myself awakening from a dream set by the lake, in Hanonis, or just sitting on the hill in George's Mills.

I enjoyed reading your entry.

Judy Lippa

At 10:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I went to camp golden arrow back in 1971-73. Camp Golden Arrow, was a place where I can be myself, and I enjoyed meeting wonderful people that I just became reconnected to. I remember the Charpentier family as being an open and receptive family who cared and loved everyone that went there. Even though Bruce died in 2006, he taught me many things that I use today. I still feel his presence and I'm glad to have met a man who was caring.

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At 8:56 PM, Blogger brooklynite said...

jalmahar, it looks like we were at golden arrow at the same time. i agree with rebecca's description--in fact, i would have described exactly as she did! does that mean we were there at the same time, 77-80ish? streets of london, charlie on the mta, and yes, of course--i wanna be sedated! i went with some friends from school, and fondly remember some other kids too. renee kerouac and all the charpentiers were favorites. i wish there was a way to reconnect with everyone, these memories grow vaguer by the year!

At 12:44 PM, Blogger Birds&Blossoms said...

Your Camp Golden Arrow post made my heart pound with FIRSTS (spiders in the sinks in the outhouses); JOY (the thrill of hiking to the top of Mount Sunapee); VICTORY when I swam my first mile, the first camper that summer); PRIDE (accepting praise for having been assigned to make a chart with crayons and construction paper that recorded each campers' long distance swimming accomplishments - displayed for all to see and addressed in the dining room every day at lunch time - and with no coaching from Bruce about how to do it, forcing me to think for myself!); the CHALLENGE of Sunday morning role play as Bruce ordered each of us to stand up and adopt a position, often one we didn't agree with or fully understand, to resolve one problem or another, like how to create world peace. KINDNESS: I will always savor the delicious vision of Ruth's loving smile, greeting us as we entered the dining hall, always warm and dry and aromatic, grateful to be eating unfamiliar food and thinking about the pots I would scrub afterwards (I loved hot oatmeal in the mornings when I could see my breath at the flag raising - but those pots....) and FORTITUDE where for several weeks I dealt with an infected molar, aware that my mother would be upset if she had another unanticipated expense, the dentist's bill. It was 1958-60, and top this day my heart still sings with the indelible vistas of beautiful New Hampshire, vowing to live there someday and escape the ugliness of Long Island...


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