I’ll Be Dreaming My Dreams With You

10 gifts from my childhood is the #writingprompt. And there's still time to write yours. Come link up with your spin of the 10 gifts of your childhood!

I just have one thing to say, or really, is it 10 things to say?

Maybe it’s 11 things. The first thing, not to be written in list form below, is that we have Hamilton: An American Musical tickets for this weekend. Enter all kinds of mild freak-outs about how bad I can be about anticipating big things, and about crowds and emotions and dark rooms in which anything can happen. The room where it happens, if you will. And then enter all kinds of thoughts about my kids and their life dreams, and how many nine-year-olds do you know that see Harry Potter: The Cursed Child back to back with Hamilton: An American Musical? I mean, really! I saw Tommy when I was 14, though.

That was cool.

10 gifts from my childhood is the #writingprompt. And there's still time to write yours. Come link up with your spin of the 10 gifts of your childhood!

Not to mention, that Scarlet had already seen six moose by her 7th birthday, and Des by his 3rd. That said, he was two at the time and doesn’t remember. Scarlet, though. She remembers everything. All the things you don’t want her to remember – like getting her hand stuck in the minivan door – and all the things you do want her to remember. Like fulfilling dreams.

And there are still so many dreams out there for us – like pixie dust swirling in the atmosphere. Just grab it.

Although I never saw back-to-back Broadway shows, and I didn’t even see moose or feel the California sun until just before my 24th birthday, that doesn’t mean I don’t admire where I came from and what it was like. Despite having an early childhood tragedy – and the worst one at that – it really was the only early life I knew. And then the only developing life I knew/have known/know now. I left New Jersey for places closer to my ski lodge loving heart, but am filled with the weight of all the love and experiences and moments it gave me. I take those gifts with me through life. And I carry them with me.

10 Gifts from my Childhood:

1 – Getting high on life. I don’t know where it came from – was it my mother, my father, my grandmother, or just me? Was it everything – and some sort of collective unconscious, deep sigh of gratitude and relief – for simple things, and for sweeping things? Whatever it is, I’ve made it my own brand and I’m sticking to it. I couldn’t tell you where and when it started, but one of my most vivid memories was during 5th grade math. We were using some sort of counting wheel and went out for a stroll during a spring day to use it. The grass was green and fragrant, the birds were singing, the sky was so blue, and it hit me. It took my breath away – that giddy, dizzying feeling of being ALIVE. Later in life it would hit me, and hit me hard.

Full body shakes and sensations. I wouldn’t give it up for anything.

2 – An elevated or just sick sense of humor. Call it dry, call it wet, call it what you will – we have it in spades. My grandmother once said we all used it as a coping mechanism, and an effective one at that. And I just had to smile.

3 – An ability to tune out anything. Whether that’s good or bad, I’m not bothered by sights and sounds and even smells, unless I’m pregnant (then all bets are off). I was born a deep sleeper, but I call it survival. Having four loud siblings and sharing walls? I had to learn to read and sleep and eat and dream while hopelessly oblivious to the world around me.

I will say that I cannot do it or even sleep if I’m around people I’ve deemed as “unsafe.”

4 – A deep love of good classic rock. Of course the music my parents played in the house and in the car is the music we all crave these days. Funny how that happens. Although Scarlet already likes my music. Where’s the rebellion??

This song is like whoa and magic.

5 – From my childhood, I learned that having pets – within reason – is super important to me. Although it’s limiting in our household. Nothing that belongs in the air or in the water or in a cage. No pellet poop and nothing that dies easily.

6 – I also learned from my childhood that annual family trips are important. We do Cape Cod and Florida and sometimes they’re barely trips and barely vacations and barely sanity, but you need to break up your years with touches of magic.

7 – One of the gifts of my childhood is sibling and cousin and uncle and aunt and niece and nephew love. Nothing like it.

8 – My parents taught us to have open minds. And trust me – they didn’t get all that from their families of origin! My mom used to joke that it was a waste that she was raising five heterosexual kids because we always had an open-hearted, open-minded place to call home. It takes all kinds in this crazy world. Why oh why would you think people were more or less than you, based on their age, race, sex, orientation, identity, income, religion, etc. Here’s the thing. That’s not how it works.

And I’ve been getting high on life since the 1980s in New Jersey so I know a thing about a thing, I do.

9 – From my childhood, I learned kindness. And the way you treat people in public (and in private). That stuff sticks. I watched it and my kids watch it. “Quick” story. In 2004 after I had just met Cassidy I said bye and drove home from JFK.

As I got to that horrible Goethals Bridge/Verrazano Bridge area, I realized too late that I had no cash on me and no EZPass. I was so incredibly out of it that I tried to drive through a gated EZPass lane. So I stopped short and backed out of that lane (incredibly illegal) and was instantly pulled over by a cop. I had illegally backed up, I had no money to pay the toll, my registration wasn’t current (!!) and I couldn’t even find my proof of insurance. Seriously could have spent a night in jail. Two cops were there, a male and female, the female yelling at me and running off to write me what she said were “multiple tickets!” I sat calmly and waited. The male cop came back to me with just a simple question. “Why are you so nice?” I stuttered out a response, “Uh..nice? My mom, I guess.” He told me I could go home and kiss my mom because my niceness just got me out of EVERY SINGLE TICKET. He let me go without even paying, with all that I did illegally. A photo from it:

10 – Dreaming my dreams with you. I’m from a long line of generations of strong men and women fulfilling life dreams and taking names. I’m not sure I am one in the full capacity, but I sure am raising one. Here’s to dreams, and to all of you.

This is me linking up, as one of my favorite things to do on a Friday, with Finish The Sentence Friday. This week’s topic is “10 gifts from my childhood” And there’s still time to write yours. Come link up with your spin: HERE.

What would you say?

Last Night I Dreamed that Dream Again

Last night I dreamed I went to Bowcraft again. Bowcraft is just one of those many New Jersey things. Bowcraft is an amusement park in Scotch Plains, NJ.

The sweetest dream.

Before that, though, Cassidy was doing my homework for me, again. (in real life) The wonderful thing is that although I still leave things until the night before, I now get paid for my efforts. Also, sometimes I do things the morning they’re due, just like in college, but those papers usually led to high grades. Like my paper about September 11th after interviewing a man (a friend) who saw, heard and forever internalized the impact of bodies hitting pavement. And don’t get me started talking about my 12 page paper about Walt Disney’s life and legacy. I wrote it an hour before it was due and got an A+. These days, my writing is often a lot less intense and sometimes less inspired, although sometimes much more of everything. I don’t get grades anymore but I get paychecks. Sometimes they seem too high for what I do, and sometimes they seem too low.

That’s my thing to work out, though.

Anyway, Cassidy was helping me with my assignment, only he was in pain and he was grumpy. Eventually I took over for my own project and finished it wonderfully, but not before putting both kids to bed. It used to be easier, but now there are monkey shenanigans, stories, and the right order of blankets to be placed. My stories are often ridiculous – like passing gas stories or pranks I pulled – and sometimes they’re about 4th grade teachers and what my father was like when I knew him.

I have this thing, though, about the way I remember people and how they made me feel. Safe. Or not.

Sometimes the stories are unsaid – like when I sank down last night into one of her giant, pillow animal things and she said, “You can stay as long as you need..” And then she put her “Grandma Bella” blanket on me. Grandma Bella was my father’s mother and she passed away when I was in college. She had knit a blanket for the first grandchild, or at least the first grandchild within my own family. Grandma Bella never got to meet Scarlet Bella, but I think they’d get on just right – everything clicked into place – not unlike the robot Cassidy was making for me, until I took over and made it my own.

When Scarlet put that blanket on me, I sank down into a wave of grief – for all that has been and all that won’t be – but gosh, what WILL be. I sank down and I had the dream again – like a million different versions of a story in my mind.

I dreamed I went to Bowcraft again.

Bowcraft is just one of those Jersey things. Maybe even more isolated than that. Maybe just one of those central Jersey things. Bowcraft is an amusement park in Scotch Plains, NJ. It’s not huge like Great Adventure. It’s not really tiny either. Actually, it’s sort of just right. It’s where I got over my ferris wheel fear so well that it turned into a ferris wheel obsession. I started low – stuck at the top with a view of a Chinese restaurant and an ugly highway. Since then I’ve learned to love ferris wheels that give you a stuck-at-the-top view of the ocean. Or mountains. I’ll never forget my first, though.

My paternal grandparents took us to Bowcraft a lot when we were kids. We lost them within a year of each other over 15 years ago. Sometimes, often, I’ll find myself dreaming and thinking about them. I’ll send my sister a text about a dream or memory I had of them and she’ll reply with something like, “Yes. I had an intense dream about Grandma last night too.”

You know how it is when you go places as a kid before you have a concept of geography, space and time. My other grandparents lived in the Fort Lauderdale area for six months of the year. One day we went to Orlando instead and I called it “the other Florida.” You don’t think about the factors that got you to where you are. You got there. You’re there. Places are feelings and atmospheres and memories. Sometimes it’s like the man behind the curtain to find out where and what they actually are. Sometimes I’d prefer to think of them as floating memories with snippets that catch my breath in dreams.

I always remember my grandparents in terms of the senses that still greet me in dreams:

Sight – The blurry sky above me as seen from the underwater depths of my grandparents’ community pool.

Sound – The alarm clock she had that used to play, “Oh What a Beautiful Morning.”

Smell – A musty den on a rainy day. Shalimar perfume. Blue bayberry-scented candles.

Taste – Rainbow sprinkles. Pepperoni-topped chef salads.

Touch – Cool sheets thrown laughingly over my head as I lay in a guest bed on a summer’s night.

Feel (which is maybe also touch) – My head thrown back with the wind in my hair on that very first ferris wheel.

These bedtime stories lead to the sweet dreams – sometimes hers, sometimes mine – and always in between. This is what sticks. What you tell them, where you take them, how you greet them, how you treat them, how you treat their father too.

And how you tuck them safely into bed. Every night. Sleep tight. Sweet dreams.

Do you have places like that – to show up in your dreams?