Thursday, October 2, 2008

Perfection

These waning days of the warm season always make me nostalgic. I can smell the halls of my high school and see myself standing in the middle of a huge clot of friends outside somebody's homeroom, oblivious to passing crowds whose progress we were hindering, laughing at each others' cleverness, gossiping about who was "going with" whom, or continuing the hours-long conversations we'd just had the night before on the phone. After those long talks we'd write even longer notes to whomever we'd been talking to, delivering them at those morning gab fests, continuing the conversation. Oh, we were a talky, analytical bunch. And we laughed. A lot!

When I was a bit younger, the earlier darkness made for great hide-and-seek games. It was very neat to be running in the street, feeling the cold air on your face, actually allowed out in the dark until somebody's mother called them in for dinner. That was the signal for everyone else to get back inside for the evening's routines: dinner, homework, TV and bed. If I didn't play outside I amused myself in my room with a book or a game of solitaire, and I can still feel that coziness, safe in the warm light of my bed lamp against the encroaching cold outside. The aromas of dinner wafted upstairs, and the murmer of my parents' voices as they compared notes about the day added to my feeling of snugness as I reposed quietly in my own little space. For a very short time, life was perfect. Social upheaval had not yet made me think about injustice and my parents' complicity in it. We disagreed about little. I rode high in the estimation of my teachers and my peers at school. The future and adulthood were so far distant as to be unimaginable. (At some point, I realized that I would be alive for the turn of the new century. I would help usher in the year 2000 at the unfathomable age of 50-something! I never thought about the kind of grown-up I'd become, for my mind didn't work that way and it still doesn't. All I knew was that I'd be "old" and I was very curious about what I'd look like. Mostly, the prospect was just grist for utter wonderment that tiptoed into my mind from time to time.) Music filled the air, either from the radio or from the piano as my sister (or I) practiced, accompanied by the beautiful warbling of Petie, my mother's beloved canary.

These memories of perfect comfort and security formed the framework for the life I tried to build for myself and had pretty much attained by that magical year 2000. Of course, we can't occupy the planet for any length of time without collecting a few bruises. They inform us, open our eyes to danger and help us be safe. Life can no longer be "perfect" because we know too much--the price of adulthood. But my memories of perfection sustain me and live on in the beauty with which Steve and I have been able to surround ourselves. We were both blessed with great models for warmth, comfort, and peace, and they still protect us from the buffeting winter winds.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Ralph,

This is a wonderful and comforting post. Wow... talk about opening the channel to memories.

What really touched me was the theme of comfort and security. It was good of you to walk us down that memory lane in these trying times.

Don't know if you caught my comments on worrying etc. It was a few days ago and I, regretfully was tardy in posting.

anywho... (how tired is that saying) thank you for providing some comfort. It was like coming home to a fireplace, a good book and a meal that brings out the best of childhood memory.

Linda
SE PA

Ralph said...

Thanks so much, Linda. It's an antedote we all need these days. I don't usually like spending a lot of time thinking about the past, but sometimes it's useful to remember what's good, and that you still have it.

Zoey & Me said...

Comforting thoughts, love the childhood description, I still miss "hide and seek". But bruises? I think I woke up to my adulthood with VietNam. In fact, I don't think I even had the same thinking patterns after that experience. Thanks for the post. It made me pause and remember how lucky I am to even be here.

Ralph said...

You've got me on the bruises, Z&M, but then again, not to take away from your experiences, pain is pain is pain. I hope we all change our ways of thinking after whatever personal catastrophes come our way.