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You Can’t See How Wonderful It Was
I loved it more than anything.
More than anything I ever wore, before or after.
It wins First Prize for the most self-coveted article of clothing I have ever owned, during my 72 years on Planet Earth wearing clothing.
As a child, I was committed to all things Cowboy.
I knew that life on the plains would make everything okay.
Eating beans around a fire, riding a horse, playing a guitar, wearing my cowboy jacket, along with cowboy hat, chaps, holster and pistols—I knew I would fit in there.
Clearly, I didn’t fit in so well in John James Audubon School #42, Scranton, Pa.
The cowboy jacket! OH, it assured me membership in a subgroup so desired by my heart.
Here I am, me and my mom; I seem to be growing out of the Blessed Jacket. Oh, the heartbreak of impermanence!
The visual of the jacket absolutely does not capture the brilliant perfection it held for me.
You can’t see how wonderful it was.
I remember that jacket, so deeply.
- The touch of its fringe
- The texture of the pseudo-suede
- The fancy shinny fake-silk lining
- The feel of the inside pockets
- I wore it everywhere.
- I wore it always.
- I loved it.
I can’t imagine how my mother ever got it away from me, when its time had come.
Absolutely, as a kid, I needed accouterments. My fantasies deepened with props. My parents, Tillie and Sidney, bless them—they did accommodate. Below is a partial listing, in no particular order, of my favs:
- High-top black Keds, a big deal for a little girl in the 1950’s
- My first rental guitar, with a stenciled cowboy riding a bucking bronco
- A sea captain’s hat
- The accompanying spyglass
- All things Cowboy!
- Football shoulder pads
- Football Helmet
- Fake golf clubs (kind of a bust)
- Zorro mask, cape and sword (not a bust, filled with life and reality)
- Daisy air rifle, a Girl-Model, with a gold barrel and white handle. I’m sure my parents got me the girl-model to strengthen my lean toward the feminine
- An Eskimo fake gold fur parka, which I begged my mother to get me from the fancy Kiddie Shope, which I knew was expensive, too expensive—nevertheless, with smothering guilt, I begged for what I needed.
I played alone, but in the summers at Camp. Girl Scout Camp, which prob saved my life!
I played in our attic, a game I called (only to myself!) Heidi. It was quite femme for me, but I had a little waxed paper bathroom cup with milk in it and slices of Swiss singles cheese to deepen the experiential touch of that fantasy.
I rode my bike every day after school, around and around Nay Aug Park, across from our house on Arthur Avenue. I pretended I was a Canadian Royal Mountie, on my horse, off to save the damsel, the women in distress, my sleeping bag behind me, my heart filled with courage and attraction for that particular damsel.
I loved that fantasy!
I played my guitar, door closed, quietly, in-a-whisper quietly
(NOTE: MY CLASSICAL GUITAR TEACHER, JEM, DECADES LATER, KEEPS TELLING ME TO PLAY LOUDER. HOW INTERESTING THAT I LEARNED TO KEEP MY JOY SO PRIVATE, MY ESCAPE SO SECRET, MY WORLD SO SOLITARY, MY MUSIC SO UNHEARD).
I played my guitar, in my room, door closed, and pretended I was Dion and the Belmonts, well, just Dion, and I would pretend I was singing Runaround Sue.
And the girls loved me. In this, my fantasy world.
The things I loved:
- Watching sports, any sports, next to my daddy on the couch. Any couch, any sports, any team throughout our lives together
- Going to the Scranton Miners, semi-pro basketball games with my daddy in the Catholic Youth Center gym. Always and always.
- SUMMERS. CAMP. COUNSELORS TO FALL IN LOVE WITH FROM AFAR. WAYS TO BELONG, WAYS TO EXCELL.
- Being on the Audubon Grade School Girls’ volleyball team. But I wet the pants of my uniform in sheer excitement during a game and was too embarrassed to tell my mom. I put it on my window ledge overnight and hoped it would purify of the smells of my little girl fluids.
- Lying in bed at night, “writing stories”, in which I was the hero, a boy, who was always loved, always admired, and always got the girl. Ah, that fantasy. (don’t tell anyone, don’t ever tell…..)
I could write books (OH!! Wait, I did!) about the trauma, the loss, the heartbreak of being so alone, of being a stutterer, of being a tiny lesbian without any context or understanding at all, of being the daughter of a dad who was going to die at any moment (he lived to be 86)…….
The aloneness and trauma and grief and profound disappointment of my childhood, they are sacred.
And yet, also, there were rocking times.
Maybe, not times.
There were rocking moments.
We can’t see how wonderful it was, the slivers, the moments, the slices of memory…….
There were positive childhood memories, indeed!
And……there are plenty of things to celebrate!
So much to celebrate:
Check this out.
Note from Dion:
“ RUNAROUND SUE. I recorded Runaround Sue with “The Del-Satins” and black musicians from the Apollo theater, Buddy Lucas on Sax, Sticks Evans on drums, Panama Francis on percussion, Teacho Wilshire on piano, Milt Hinton on bass, and Mickey “Guitar” Baker. ~ When Hollywood filmed this rendition, they use all white actors playing musicians behind me, knowing the film wouldn’t get played in the South at that time.”
Note from Aruni:
It is essential to befriend the loss and pain of childhood.
Yet it is redundant and counterproductive, to stay, to remain there.
It is our work to embrace the sad and brokenhearted children that we are.
It is redundant and counterproductive—to overlook the moments of freedom and celebration.
Riding bikes through piles of leaves!
There was freedom.
There was joy.
There was celebration,
In the midst of
What are your positive childhood memories?
What article of clothing did you most adore, beyond all others, ever and forever?
What was the most yummy, delicious food they gave you?
What was the best present they ever gave you?
Crushes on television stars?
What lies deep in your?
Let me know…………..
All voices welcomed.
All experiences sacred.
Thank you for allowing me this childhood journey.
I feel much less meh after remembering.
Be safe and well.
Notice the brilliance within.
Watch the glory outside.
We are blessed,
No matter what is happening.