Saturday, March 22, 2008

Once Upon a Time

Someone said to me not long ago that I should write a book. My immediate response was a wry grin and a polite, “About what?” The answer startled me.

“Your life.”

After the initial shock, I figured the person was joking. She was not. I kept waiting for a punch line. None was offered. When I finally asked why in the world anyone would be interested in my boringly normal life, she smiled. Her answer was that few people of my generation remember much of anything about their childhood… or the art of growing up. Maybe that’s because a lot of them are in denial and believe a plastic surgeon is the cure to stop the aging process. Not me. Growing up wasn’t always fun, but it had it’s moments.

She pointed out that Tom Brokaw has documented the “Greatest Generation” and just finished a saga about the 1960s. Not being from around here, she found it interesting that the South of my forefathers was so different from my own. As a child, I began school at the inception of integration, a concept which concerned at least two generations of my family. But to a kid facing First Grade and all the “new” that would come with it, skin color was the least of my worries. After all, hadn‘t I learned in Sunday School that Jesus loved the little children, ALL the children of the world? Okay, so there were only 3 black kids in my grade for six years...two girls and a boy. But to this day, I remember their names. Not because their skin was different, but because one girl fearlessly walked the halls as if she owned them, the other was as shy as I was and the boy was the smartest kid in my class. I remember going home in 6th grade and telling my Mom he was going to be President of the United States. He was too smart for that…he became a doctor who practiced in Washington, DC.. With a name like Emmanuel, he could’ve given Obama a run for his money.

That’s it, the woman said to me with a smile. You remember. You remember growing up when kids didn’t see the skin color that made their parents wary. She prodded me to think of something unique to my childhood that kids today don’t think twice about. The Space Program, my brain announced. I remember sitting in front of the TV., fingers crossed, as that 10 count began. In my little girl mind, Mission Control’s Gene Kranz was the voice of God. I’d hold my breath until Kranz announced astronauts were safely on their way…or back home. I got up in what seemed like the middle of the night to watch a grainy black and white picture of men walking on the moon. After the broadcast, we ventured outside with my Mom to look up at the moon, astounded that men were actually up there. And I’d waved, I admitted with a grin.

The point is, the woman stated firmly, you remember. You were a kid when JFK, Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King were assassinated. I remember sneaking down the hall, at the age of 6, to watch the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show, I admitted. Those are the kinds of stories that need to be told, she argued. Those who remember should share.

I thanked her, still unsure how many people actually want to read the saga of a boringly normal little Southern girl who grew up believing that good wins out over evil simply because it should. And that a healthy curiosity should never be packed away with childhood toys.

I am curious. Question is…are you?

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