Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Life In A Modern Town

My friend Anne, participated in this tag on her blog and I thought I'd play too. I'm not going to tag anyone, either, but the questions are interesting, so if you'd like, feel free to use them for inspiration for your own blog.

What was school like when you were little?

I remember feeling like school was free and easy, fun and interesting. I had teachers who challenged me, who believed in me (that is, after my Kindergarten teacher who, along with the school principle, began the process of having me institutionalized. Amazingly, my mother picked up my cause and went to bat for me. Needless to say, I was never sent to an institution).  But after that, I liked the teachers and remember being treated well and having a lot of fun with my friends at recess. I still vividly remember certain school lessons from grade 4 and 5, they had that much impact on me.

What was a memorable experience from your childhood? How did you feel about it?

When I was fifteen, my mom rented a camp spot in Grand Bend, a popular vacation spot southern Ontario, Canada, about an hour from our home in London. There was a beach, a lake that stretched so far that it looked like the ocean—you couldn’t see any shore at all. Grand Bend also had a quaint little beach town, Canada’s version of a small California town, I think. Little shops sold beach gear and clothing, boutiques sold Indian arts and crafts from local reservations. And teenagers roamed the streets like packs of dogs. It was awesome.

For my birthday, she took me there and we had a party at our campsite. We went there every weekend for the whole summer and didn’t have to set up and take down our tent trailer every time. We just jumped into our car on Friday after mom got off work and headed out of town.

We drove a carmel colored Ford Cordoba with general Corinthian leather (thank you Manuel Esteban). It featured a high-tech 8-track stereo, which my mom had a large collection for. We listened to “Rockin’ Robin” and “Hang Down Your Head, Tom Brody,” with the volume up loud. I remember sticking my head out the window and bobbing up and down as my mom and sang along as loud as we could.

Those memories, melded into one, have become my single-most favorite memory of my childhood, and conversely, memory of my mother. That was the moment, that we were truly happy, truly free.

What has changed since your childhood about your local or national community?

This is difficult for me to answer as I haven’t lived in the communities of my childhood since I was nineteen years old. I no longer even live in the same country.

But I suppose some generalities will be the same: Like the freedom we (those of us in our middle years) had as children to roam far and wide in our towns. I lived in a ‘sleeper community’ of Toronto, and then in the major city of London. In both places I was free to ride my bike as far and as wide as I had the energy to go. I rarely went with friends, favoring instead wandering adventures on my own.

It makes me sad to think that I believe my generation was truly the last to have such freedom. Even as a teenager I was aware that times had changed. I turned my color up to hide my face from the view of the older man sitting on the bench at the bus stop. I steered away from strangers on the bus, preferring to sit by myself. Even then, there were the beginnings of whisperings that strangers were not safe, that children were not safe. Still, they were secrets, not generally accepted. We still tried to live in the worlds of our childhood.

Unfortunately that world has completely gone now, those secrets are common knowledge and we can no longer pretend that our children are safe. Sadly, I think this change has overtaken all towns and cities, the world over.

I wonder if we’ll ever get that innocence back. I think, probably not.