Childhood Revisited


I had a big birthday this year, my 65th in fact. Deciding to return to my roots in New York State, I contacted an old high school friend to see if she could come to a party in Brooklyn at my daughter’s home. Instead she suggested returning to the small farming town in upstate New York where we had met, to see who was still around.  This core idea grew wings, word spread on the grapevine, and more than a dozen of us decided to have a potluck Saturday night.

I didn’t know what to expect since I hadn’t seen any of these childhood friends for almost 50 years! (How time flies…) So I began to dream about it. All of us would be around 65 years old, give or take a few; would I know anybody? Would they seem old? Would anyone even remember me? I had been to other reunions at another ‘city’ school where I attended for my last two years of high school.  At the 40th reunion, I noticed that although many of the women were blooming and reinventing themselves, many of the men were ready to retire and were winding their lives down for the final curtain call.  Current friends warned me not to be surprised if my childhood buddies might look and act old.

Saturday night arrives and much to my delight this is a wonderful group of old friends that have just reached middle age! They look fabulous and shine with aliveness. The stories start emerging as we are reminded of things, people, events no one has thought of in decades! It is a lively, loud and exuberant group, excited about life, full of good humor, and glad to be with each other again. Apparently I have changed the most (maybe), and this surprises me. How? I was shy, retiring, and quiet back then. I held myself back to try to fit in. Hardly shy anymore! It is I who has come alive!

As we talk, I realize that life itself has rubbed off the shyness. There was no time or energy to maintain that persona in my life as all the various trials of men and children and family and making my way by the seat of my pants came into play over the years. My true self was forced to emerge to survive. All the extraneous pretense was shed like a tight skin and I am so much better for it!

More stories will come out of this wonderful evening. I can feel them forming and emerging in the dark fertile corners of my psyche and I will share them with you as they do. More than anything else I have again felt the strong, vital root of my childhood in my life – in my soul – and I am healed in ways that astonish me. I feel full of the deep strength of my heritage in the rolling hills of my childhood, connected to the people who grew there with me. Thank you, everyone of you, for welcoming me home!

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