Childhood was a long time ago, and far away

Yesterday I was playing around on Google maps, street level, and I had a sudden inclination to ‘wander’ ’round the small town I grew up in. I ‘walked’ past my high school, down to the corner where I used to linger with the boy I liked, along the main street, looking in shop windows, past my church, from my house to the pool… The internal reaction was surprisingly visceral.

I was physically back there a year ago, just driving around with HL and a friend, and it was nice, and a bit nostalgic, but not a particularly deep response. This ‘visit’ was different. I felt almost physically ill from the assault of a million, million early memories. The smell of the chlorine, the pebbly feel of the post office foyer, the coffee shop where I had my first ‘grown-up’ birthday party, the crunch of the gravel under my feet as I walked past the 3rd last house before home, the steepness of the hill that I rode my bike up, the tall gateposts at school I would sit on and swing my legs…

I don’t, in any way, want to move back there, or ‘go back to childhood’ in any way, but the gut-wrenching realisation that all of that is past, gone, not even ‘visitable’, was affecting. The linear nature of living is hard.

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2 Comments

  1. Rodney Olsen said,

    September 14, 2008 at 9:45 am

    I know just what you mean. We can’t go back and yet it would feel so ‘safe’ if we could, even for an hour or two. Life keeps moving on and the missed opportunities of the past are missed forever. We only have today and the days ahead.

  2. notperfection said,

    September 14, 2008 at 2:27 pm

    And I so wanted, then, to be where I am now…’grown-up’ (I, instinctively, accidentally, spelt that ‘groan-up’ – somewhat Freudian I would say), out of home, considered, and respected as, an adult.

    I am so grateful for, what was, I s’pose, an idyllic childhood. The safety and security and unchangingness of growing up, loved, in a small town was incredibly important to my character development.There was a lot of parochialism, at the time, that I wished was different, but I think I learnt so much living in other people’s pockets.

    Childhood is something that becomes intrinsically embedded at a very deep level, and I am amazed that God allows us to be in charge over such tenderness and innocence.


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