The days were full of normal parts. Eat, sleep, school, work. Activities we all shared. Each house sheltering a family going through it’s normal day. Mothers at home fixing dinner, fathers greeted at the door with a gin and tonic while they took off their overcoat, loosened their tie, and set their hat carefully on the shelf in the coat closet. Imagine Mad Men. This was our life. Our life of normal parts. So foreign and sexist to today’s ethos of family.
Some days were magical. The snow would fall in mounds and school would be cancelled. We’d run home, grab our mittens, and jump and dance and slide and build and throw and tumble for hours. Our mothers would call us in for cinnamon toast and hot chocolate. We’d warm our hands, fill our bellies, and head back out into the magic.
Some days were frightening. Watching television when special announcements came on the air. A president dead. My grandmother screaming as she put her hand to her mouth, dropping her cigarette onto the carpet. From my view on the floor with my toys, I could see the muddled video of a handsome couple waving from a convertible, and then everything blurry and confused. At the same time, I watched Grandma’s cigarette smolder, and hoped we weren’t going to burn up in a housefire. Innocence watching the news.
The days could continue to be frightening. This time a Civil Rights leader. My mother screaming as she stood to her feet from the couch and looked ready to run away. But there was nowhere to go. She screamed, “No! Oh, no! Not him! Not him, too!” I realized this somehow connected to the dead president, but I wasn’t sure how. I learned the word assassination that day.
We became young adults and wanted to escape this small town life. The conversations were always the same. The gossip. The keeping-up-with-the-neighbors. This town was so boring. There was nothing to do. We wanted excitement. We wanted lights and noise and movement.
We became older adults and wanted to return again. After we went out to see the excitement and the lights and the noise, we dreamed about those quieter times. The leisurely afternoons, Saturday morning cartoons. We longed for the world of our youth. The world of those days of normal parts.