Life was simple. My days revolved around paper dolls and Barbies, or an occasional game of Mystery Date with my sisters. The sound of Donny Osmond singing “Puppy Love” was frequently heard coming from my bedroom. A poster of Leif Garrett hung prominently on my wall. Summer days were spent under the pine trees surrounding our North Georgia home. Pine straw houses were the location for many meals consisting of mud pies and mud soup. A stick became a spoon and rocks were decorations for a cake made of mud. If I sit very quietly and concentrate I can still smell the scent of the pines and the smell of the fresh earth on my hands. My bare feet feel the coolness of the dirt floor of my imaginary living room.
My siblings and I could often be found running an obstacle course designed by my brother. Being one of four children required me to play along so that we would have even teams. Oh, how I hated those things!! Chicken fights, playing in the water from the hose pipe when the summer heat became unbearable, and endless rides around the yard in the wheelbarrow were common activities in my southern childhood. A rare trip to the store for my mom became sock war time for us kids. She would barely get out the door before my brother would say, “Go get all your socks! Hurry up! I will set up the forts.” Dining room chairs became barricades to hide behind. The battles would last until we heard Mom’s car turn into our driveway the sound of which sent us on a mad scramble to set everything back in place before she could make it into the house.
Winter months found us on a blanket being pulled wildly through the house across the hardwood floors. There were the very rare snow filled days when we would scrape enough snow together to make a snowman even if he was only 1 foot tall and covered in pine needles. Of course we were always sporting those fashionable striped tube socks on our hands serving as mittens.
Many afternoons my sister and I would put on one of mom’s country music albums and skate through the house in our socks. If not skating we would probably be jumping on our parent’s bed while wearing every pair of pantyhose my mom owned on our heads. This instantaneously changed us from blonds to brunettes. I couldn’t count the number of times we fought over who had more pairs of pantyhose. I so wish more of those moments had been captured on film but sadly they only exist in our fragile memories.
A birthday party for one of my older siblings with music and dancing comes to mind. Back then nobody was excluded from the party because of age. Things were so innocent and fun. I remember slow dancing with a neighbor who was a family friend to the song “Let Her In” by John Travolta. Grease and Star Wars playing in the local movie theatre created a chance to sit beside a cute boy nervously hoping he liked you as much as you liked him. Sweaty palms, shaky hands. Making sure you positioned your hand so that he could easily take hold of it if he chose. So anxious about sitting with him that the movie passed without you really seeing it. Butterflies filling my stomach until I feared floating out of my seat and my heart pounded so hard I knew he could hear it.
Many times after seeing a movie with friends we would all walk over to the local pizza place. I can still remember the unique smell of a Pizzaville pizza. We would all pool our money and buy a pizza to share while we sat together talking and laughing.
The innocent days of the 70s left as I was transformed into a teen of the 80s. Cindi Lauper told me, “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.” Kenny Loggins encouraged me to be “Footloose”. Madonna and Prince told me lots of things I shouldn’t have heard and Kool and the Gang told me to “Celebrate”. I am sure some celebrated a little too much while others were too insecure and afraid of being hurt to let go and be footloose. I do wish that I had made more memories with my friends from high school.
Like the 70s, the 80s passed by as I transformed once again. This time taking me into adulthood. I graduated in 1984 and began life as a wife with responsibilities of a woman. There wasn’t internet or cell phones to keep me connected to my friends and I lost touch and didn’t see many friends for years. Who would have thought that after 25 years any one of us would still care about the other. After all we have spent many more years apart than together. I suppose that the bonds we shared were stronger than any of us imagined they could be. We are bound to each other by the commonality of our pasts. Old relationships are being renewed and strengthened. New friends have been grafted in through marriages and there are even budding friendships between our children.
Chattooga County, Georgia may not be good for much in most people’s eyes but it was in Chattooga’s lovely valley with hills on every side that I met the best friends anyone could dream of having. I had a childhood that most would say was ideal. My teen years were filled with more than my share of fun. The 90s found me becoming a mother for the first time and shortly after the new millinium I became a mother once again. Now the first decade of this century is almost finished and I find myself wondering what the next decade will bring. My prayer is that it will bring friendships closer, strengthen my family bonds, and bring overwhelming joy to our lives.