|Circa 1957. I'm the shrimp in the middle.|
So when Carolyn Baker and Dean Spillane-Walker, at their workshop Resilience Bridge, asked all of us to recall what made us happy as children, as adolescents, and as adults, I didn't imagine that the first chapter of my life would yield much.
I was wrong. I came up with lots of things.
I loved to return home from church to fried chicken on Sundays. My favorite piece was the thigh, and I was always grateful when my parents and siblings saved one for me. When I'd learned the Lord's Prayer, I was sometimes allowed to say it. I congratulated myself on my performance. (I didn't really hear it until childhood was long gone.)
Speaking of church, I loved eating those little powdered donuts between Sunday school and the 11:00 worship service. I fed a few crumbs to the goldfish in the courtyard pond.
I loved surprising my father when he came home from work at 3:30 in the afternoon, still in his overalls. When he opened the front door, I jumped out from behind it, and he always (I mean every single time) acted surprised. After he changed his clothes, I sat in his lap until he dozed off.
I loved spending my allowance at the dime store on Marysville Boulevard. When I was six or seven, my mother let me walk the five blocks there by myself. I crossed an empty half-block, the potholed corner lot next to Marie's Donuts. It was dry and brown in the summer, green and muddy after the rain started, and teeming with tadpoles. I scooped them up in my hands and returned them to the water. (I'd brought some home once in a jar, but my mother wasn't thrilled.) I turned over rocks and poked the ground with sticks. I daydreamed of flying like the crows on the telephone wire.
Even chores, although I never had many, gave me joy. My sister and I used to sing show tunes while she was washing and I was drying dishes, learned from the LPs she collected. I still have the lyrics in my head to "What Do the Simple Folk Do?"
Food, child-sized adventures, animals, routines, stability. These things made me happy, and insofar as my life and my family's aren't utterly disrupted by the hard times approaching, I can cling to these childhood blessings and try to bestow them on others. When my life is disrupted (as the lives of so many have been severely disrupted this week by fire) I can do my best to restore my blessings or, at the very least, remember them.