Monday, May 2, 2011

Visiting my childhood

Do you currently live near where you grew up?  I do. I grew up on a corner and pass that house at least twice a week. Saturday I stopped to visit neighbors who lived two houses away throughout my childhood. I used to run into the man occasionally, but haven't seen the woman in probably 20 years. Why haven't I done this before? Aren't most of us in a hurry to get to our destination and guilty of thinking we have unlimited time to contact people?

Mr G wasn't home when I knocked on the door, but Mrs G was. She had a look on her face that said "who are you and what are you selling?". I told her to take a good look, then told her it was Charlene (yes, it is true, I have a given name and it isn't Knitty Photobucket ) To say she was surprised would be an understatement.

I only intended to stay for 15-20 minutes. After 45 minutes I tried to leave because I hadn't told my hubby that I'd be gone this long on my errands. Mrs G wanted me to stay because Mr G was on his way home with their great-granddaughter from a child's birthday party. How did their daughter, five years younger than I am, become old enough to be a grandmother to 10 and 6 year old girls? Of course I stayed. Mr G recognized me right away and said I hadn't changed a bit. He always was a sweet ole liar. After two hours, I did leave, promising to stop by again, and not after a decade passed but sometime this summer.

Besides reminiscing over their kids' childhoods and stories about my parents, I was told neighborhood stories I never heard before. For a time, the neighbor between their house and ours was a divorced woman with two girls. I thought rumors about her were spread because she was an attractive divorced woman in the middle of married suburbia. I never knew exactly what the rumors were because my parents didn't think kids needed to hear those stories, especially since I was friends with the older girl. The younger daughter told Mrs G's daughter that her mom sometimes gave the girls something to help them sleep soundly.  Supposedly the woman would turn her porch light on when her daughters were both asleep for the night but it wasn't for security, it was a signal to gentlemen who would only call on her after dark. One of the men was the married neighbor on the other side of the G family!

All of the stories weren't sad or salacious, but I had already heard most of the tales that were safe for a child to hear. What struck me about these stories was that in the 60s it was still possible to grow up blissfully unaware of the misdeeds of adults. Kids didn't think about their parents having intimate moments with each other, much less a whole string of people as in a Jerry Springer episode.

Soap operas are disappearing from television but reality TV lives on. What I discovered Saturday is that my street could have existed in Llanview, Salem or Pine Valley. The soaps weren't real, but they pretended to be.  Reality TV however, pretends to be real and isn't. Some make fun of old sitcoms because June Cleaver always wore pearls and Donna Reed never had a hair out of place while handling a family crisis, but they readily believe a new employee has a camera crew following them around (Undercover Boss) while managers reveal private, very personal matters to the new hire at the water cooler.
I'll take the old sticoms and illusion of people behaving in acceptable ways to most of what we see and hear today, both on TV and out in public. Keep your private conversations private rather than exposing everyone in the checkout line to who said what because their babydaddy told some (expletive) babymama how (expletive) their stupid boss is. And so on. And for goodness sake, pay attention to what your young children see and hear on TV! 

In a few weeks I will call Mrs G and see if she would like to go out to lunch or have me bring some lunch to her. We'll compare what is right with the world today to what we discarded (before we knew we'd miss it so much) from yesteryear. I won't be wearing a dress and heels, but I could probably manage a Laura Petrie flip and wear some pearls.


Chatty Crone said...

What a great thing to do on a whim - now I call that living.

There is a country song by Miranda Lambert about going back to visit her old house.

Glad you had such a nice time.

Lisa @ Two Bears Farm said...

I drive by the house I lived on from the age of 9-13 every once in a while. It used to be red brick but some crazy owner painted it PINK!