Possibilities

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The other day, we slept in (don’t judge, it’s summer!) We were ready to get buff at Planet fitness, my daughter Aidan and I. We had already gotten on the stay up too late, leisurely, languid summertime schedule. You know, when suddenly school is about to start back and you panic because you’ve become a summer vampire of sorts? You then try to hurry up and get back to, up with the birds school schedule in that somber last week of slow mo summer, reluctantly 🙂 To our credit, we were getting buff though!

We backed out of the garage, hot, but not as steamy as usual, the air still weighty in our lungs, the car an oven already. The sun bright, the kind of bright that has the power to summon up shimmering mirages and phoenixes. Our eyes protested reflexively blinking and squinting in adjustment. We rounded the corner, the large round safety mirror mounted there reminiscent of a bubble reflecting the sky, fence, pavement and trees, curved and stretched, hypnotic, an optical illusion in which I lose myself ever so briefly at every encounter. The mirrors guard every corner, lest we blindly, recklessly crash head on as we round the tight bends.  Clonk plonk over the speed bumps times 8, we putter through the rows of garages, everything uniform and tan, the crepe myrtles straining, rising up triumphantly through the concrete at precise landscaped intervals. Clonk plonk…we reach the electric wrought iron gait, it whirs and releases us.

We reach the stop sign and I am taken aback, “Wow….it’s so pretty,”  I gasp, awestruck. Aidan agrees, “Yes it is, but it’s so hot!” I reply, “Yeah, but not as hot as usual.” I soak it all in, breathing deeply, I can’t help but smile…the sky is that vivid super sky ozone blue, the immaculate landscaping swathes fairy tale like in it’s perfection. Crayola green manicured grass, perfectly pruned crepe myrtles, magnolias and cypresses, with various shrubs, technicolor flowers all shimmering gently in the summer breeze. We curved around to the next stop sign, gilding the way is a vast white-fenced meadow with long lush grasses nestled with brilliant spatterings of wild flowers. The expansiveness always tantalizing my imagination. I wonder what creatures live there. Wouldn’t it be nice if wild horses lived there. Dotting the velvety grass near the road are large red jagged rocks. I laugh because they are so out of place, like an after thought. But I love them and always wish I could sit on them sunning myself like a lizard.

The beauty of that summer day touched a primal place at the center of me where I directly felt how it was for me in childhood. I recalled how a day like this was open with all sorts of possibilities. Anything could happen in my childhood view. Everything was new and so exciting. I could go explore and do anything. My imagination had no bounds. All I had to do was explore and play! What would happen if as an adult, I could just seize the day and do anything I wanted, as in childhood when I was so trusting and free.

 

I chuckled, how silly I’d look, because I pictured myself as an adult wearing the groovy clothes from my youth. Cotton sundresses that tied at the shoulders with hot pink, traffic cone orange and saturated yellow floral patterns, edged with zig zaggy green ric rac, or some pink stretch shorts and a wildly patterned sleeveless shirt. Barefoot. I’d wake up and impatiently eat some cereal, Kaboom, Captain Crunch, Sugar Smacks, nice jolt of sugar to fuel a five year old.  No wonder our mothers were always telling us to go outside and play! I couldn’t wait to go outside though.  And I pretty much stayed outside until the street lights came on. That was the universal code for time to get home asap, or else you’d hear your mother yelling your name loudly over the crickets and cicadas in the last gasps of sun relinquishing to the darkening sky while the streetlights diligently took over, buzz pop, buzz pop, until they were all lighting the way home…bloop…better hurry home! “Michelle….MICHEEEEEEELLLLE… Michelle MIDORI!” Uh oh. I stubbed my toe a lot on those soothing warm twilit sidewalks in contrast with my soles being toughened and scorched by day. I still luxuriate in going barefoot, especially in the cool grass traipsing on fragrant trails of earth.

I’d meander in the yard, the grass often a meadow with yellow and white wildflowers on tall juicy stalks, a jungle to me. I’d look for insects, catch crickets, caterpillars, earthworms, katydids, lizards, toads and grasshoppers, plus moths, doodle bugs and leaf hoppers…and chase butterflies.  I even remember seeing a giant spider, like the size of 2 tarantulas…but that can’t be possible can it? It was under a wooden pallet in our backyard. Do things look extra giant to little kids or what? I often wondered as I got older if it wasn’t somehow a stowaway from another country, like maybe the wooden pallet was used to transport some bananas or something, lol, idk? Was it just my little girl imagination?

I would skip along the sidewalks a grid among the small brick  with the requisite carports, rows of ranch houses, and mix of new and preexisting trees, bordered by a horse field behind our street. We children of Village St George loved feeding the horses carrots and sugar cubes. We were always warned to be careful not to get too close for long because the horses might kick us. We were always a little careful and nervous, but our exuberance and curiosity always had us going back to the horses even after someone really got kicked. She’d done the forbidden and went over the barbed wire fence. We were scandalized, the familiar drawn out “Ooooooooh, I’m tellin’ ” in our minds but also impressed at her bravery.

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I would find someone to play with or I’d try to play with my brother, he was just a toddler though and we’d pretend all day, dress up, dolls, barbies, listen to records, 45’s, with books to go along, Golden Books. Wagons, trikes, bikes, hopscotch, chase, hide and seek, Mother May I, Simon Says, Red Light Green Light. Swing sets, slides, monkey bars, jump rope, balls, bubbles, pin wheels, harmonicas, maracas, kazoos, castanets,miniature tea sets, kiddie pools, dogs and cats. Collecting rocks, leaves, clovers, examining every tree, bush, flower, dirt, nook, cranny, creature. Playing in the rain and the mud squooshing between your toes, stomping in the puddles, having a chance to use your new umbrella and galoshes. Lollipops, bubblegum, cotton candy, jiffy stove top popcorn the ice cream man, snow cones that turn your teeth and poop green 🙂 Creomulsion and merthiolate, yikes! My mother would play piano, chopsticks, and other jaunty tunes, plus she sang “Oh Danny Boy” while accompanying herself, it melts my heart remembering her smooth, soulful voice.

I adored the tadpoles we’d watch grow into frogs in the grassy front yard ditch. The cute crawfish with their impressive mud chimneys were fascinating. I remember a bat under our carport and snakes coming out of a hole in the bricks of our house or was it a neighbors? Drive in movies, mosquito coils. Balloons and circuses. Fun Fair Park was epic. Thunderbird Beach. We saw a floating turd there and it was never the same, lol 🙂  Going to the Audubon zoo, feeding the monkeys uncooked spaghetti noodles. Eating beignets at Cafe du Monde. Shakey’s pizza where there were movies, a piano and you could watch them make the pizza. Piccadilly where we’d always get too much and our parents would say “Your eyes are bigger than your stomach.” we’d always get the jello and just play with it. The animatronic Santa at Goudchaux’s department store, fun but kinda creepy too.

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Running through the clothing racks topped with statues of Pooh bear and Piglet at Sears hearing, “Y’all are gonna get a spanking when we get home!” We thought we were smart and put all of our underwear on under our clothes in preparation, but we didn’t get a spanking after all 🙂

Vacations to Six Flags Over Texas and Pensacola. Drinking out of souvenir cups the shape of an orange with a straw sticking out the top. Eating spaghetti and meatballs with banana pudding for dessert at Grandma Wickboldt’s. Beehive hairdos and go go boots. The glorious Christmases there where everyone sang together. Playing with my sweet cousins, aunts and uncles. Singing Sakura in my young kid, goofy froggy sounding voice. My mother sang the song she was known for, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”

Dressing up for my favorite holiday, Halloween and trick or treating. My most memorable costume was a homemade one my mother sewed, an A-lined turquoise blue fairy dress with cardboard stars covered in foil adorning it with a star wand to match, I felt so special. Watching Buckskin Bill, Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie, Captain Kangaroo, Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, The Wonderful World of Disney, Family Affair, plus Saturday Morning Cartoons.

I really have some wonderful memories from younger childhood, here in Baton Rouge. Everyone looked out for us kids, I remember when I was 4, I was angry, having a tantrum in the front yard by ripping down our freshly planted loquat tree. The neighbor across the street called my mama and ratted me out 🙂 Our extended family was always loving and kind.

So what if  as an adult I could greet everyday as an adventure as I did as a child. No judgement, pure excitement, openness and acceptance of where the day takes me. Fully trusting. No agenda, except to learn and have fun. Watching, observing, appreciating, revering, listening, just soaking it all in with quiet awareness and unbridled joy just to be alive, curious and loving. Like if I could just reset to this childlike set point every single day? How would things change? What if we all tried to be a little more open, curious, trusting, accepting, appreciating and wide eyed, full of wonder?  Maybe the world would shift to a much more friendlier, abundant, loving, nurturing, joyful place?

Aidan and I did get a little bit buff this summer and I made a pact with myself to take time out to go on adventures and rekindle the pure-hearted enchantment within me.

I wanted to write something to lighten us up in these times of great tragedy and disaster. I hope it helped by taking a walk down memory lane somehow 🙂 Love and hugs to everyone <3 <3 <3

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Michelle Miyagi
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