soundtrack of my childhood

The soundtrack of my childhood is

Giggles and made-up words and stroller wheels on the bumpy sidewalk

Ice cream trucks and carnival music and peeper frogs at my grandparents’ house

It is my pencil furiously scratching on the yellow legal pad where I keep all my stories

Of little girls just like me and little girls I want to be

It is the deep, bellowing “Signorita!” at Vincent’s Pizzeria

Where a plain slice is $1.25 and I always pay in exact change

It is Maranatha music blasting from the living room stereo as my mother cleans the house

“You should be a singer,” we always tell her, but she thinks she isn’t good enough

My summers are

Slathered sunscreen, crashing waves, and squawking seagulls at Jones Beach

Smacking of bare feet on rough concrete at Manorhaven pool

The crunch of Frosted Flakes in red solo cups on family vacations in Massachusetts

Where my cousins are Long Island meets Boston and I can’t wait until I’m a teenager, too

//

But my childhood is also

Secrets and lies and hiding with the door locked and the lights off

Screams and broken dishes and slamming doors and if you go to sleep you won’t know

It is caught in the middle, it’s none of their business, and passive aggression always wins

It is indecipherable conversation among nameless relatives and foreign faces that look just like mine

The steady drip in the cold, damp basement bedroom in my father’s house

It is taunts at recess and “Can you even see?”

It is pretending I’m from Hawaii because no one would ever want to be from China

Pretending and make believe and believe enough to make it real

//

At midnight, when the streetlamp guards the empty road like a sentinel, the soundtrack is

The blaring whistle of the train two blocks away

The chorus of cicadas outside my 2nd story window

Decorated with the weather-worn “don’t forget me, firefighter” sticker, I don’t want to be forgotten

It is the sporadic thud of a green crabapple falling from the tree in the front yard

It is the snores of my mother’s boyfriend sleeping downstairs

The gentle breathing of my little sister in the bed next to mine

Whom I’ll always protect, I will always protect

My childhood soundtrack is not quite evening and not yet morning, but it is always there

Longing for the night and the adventures in my dreams

Longing for the day when my adventures begin

//

2015.03.08

***

Inspiration: Becoming Myself by Stasi Eldredge

“It’s not that I remember everything clearly. It comes to me unbidden, my history, in a fragrance I catch on the breeze, in the sound of the birds happily going about their joyous business of finding things to eat. It is a hint of eternity on the wind, a connection to seasons past, the memory of wonder, of longing, of knowing. I am still three and seven and twenty-two.

At times there is within me an echo of the truth that I am eternal. I am connected to my present, my future, my past. So are you. We carry within us every age and every moment of our lives.”

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