The complete lack of responsibility. My mother even fed the dog. But lack of responsibility also meant a lack of freedom. I was pretty much at the mercy of those with cars and the license to drive.
My dog. Pebbles was a chihuahua mixed with who knows what else. She wasn't a particularly nice dog, at least not to strangers. But she loved our family. I can remember getting her to chase me as I ran around the house. Then I'd turn around and chase her. She could sure run, that little thing. And she was always so happy to see us. My parents had a split level home and she had her spot at the top of the stairs, out of the traffic pattern, where she'd sleep during the day. When someone came in the front door she'd do a little happy dance at the top of the stairs. She'd stand on her hind legs, paw the air with her front legs, get back on all fours and wag her tail so hard her entire body wiggled. She knew how to make a person feel welcomed.
Roller skating with one skate in the garage.
We had one pair of roller skates in our family. They were the kind that you'd clamp on your shoes. My sister Ellen and I would each strap on one skate (I don't remember if I had the same skate every time or not) and skate in circles in the garage. Dad kept it clean and it gave us a large, smooth surface. Push-glide . . . push-glide . . . There was something special about it. Sharing, making do, . . .
Dance routines with Jerilyn.
One of my best friends in late grade school was my church friend Jerilyn. I got to spend the night with her once and we made up a routine to the song "Seattle" by Bobby Sherman. I've long since forgotten the steps, except that when we'd sing the word "Seattle" we'd stop and extend an arm toward a painting on the wall of her living room--as if the painting were of the soggy city. Dancing was frowned upon at my house, so dancing--to the music of Bobby Sherman, no less--was like enjoying a forbidden pleasure.
The farm was my maternal grandparents' home in Iowa. The house was a simple two-story building, with a rarely used front porch. Everyone came in through the side door, between the kitchen and the cellar. Grandpa was a quiet, stoic farmer who didn't go out of his way to impress anybody. Granny, on the other hand, fretted over everything and everybody. She made sure there were filled candy dishes in every room, bottles of pop on the cellar steps, and ice cream bars in the freezer. And I loved the farm itself. Fields of corn, noisy crickets, smelly cows. I could write an entire book about life on the farm. So maybe I will. It'll be my generation's "Little House" series.
Riding my bike.
I would go for long rides by myself, for what seemed like hours. If my kids did that today, I'd worry about them. But there wasn't much to worry about in Boise. Once, I rode with my friend Karen all the way downtown--at least five miles. Becky (yes, I had a friend named Becky) and I rode to our favorite spots where we'd climb trees or catch snails. My bike was a way to get to special places. But it was also a joy in itself. Just riding, riding, riding. Sometimes I'd rubber band my dad's transistor radio to the handlebars and enjoy some music as I rode along. I guess this doesn't have to be something I miss; I could still ride a bike today. But I don't.
What's the common thread? I think it's finding joy in the simple, carefree pleasures of life. Yeah, I miss that. Being a grown-up isn't as much fun. But at least I get to drive a car.