I'm originally from that part of New York State that people tend to forget about. A small pocket of wilderness tucked away in the northern part of the state. It's only convenient to remember this vast expanse of wilderness when the sun gets warm, the cicadas start to hum, and the familiar summertime musk of barbecued food echoes through the cookie-cutter housing developments of suburbia. Then bags get packed and people of all shapes, sizes, races, colors, and creeds get their one or two week dosages of the great outdoors before returning home to their own asphalt jungles and concrete trees.
So there I was, tucked away in the wilderness, the nearest major city in another country where the tongue is French and the food is ubiquitously poisoned by mayonaisse.
When I made my grand entrance into the world Disco was growing in popularity and Boston's debut album was jumping out of the hi-fi stereos of the day. My older siblings would bring me to parties when they were supposed to be babysitting me. New and colorful words like "shit" and "fuck" got added to my 2 year old vocabulary.
I remember waking up and begging my sister to get up and play Legos with me or I'd wander into her room at night and ask her to play her 8-track of Billy Joel's "The Stranger." Sometimes I'd wander into the basement, which happened to be my other brothers' bedroom and being terrified of the leather, platform shoes, and face paint of the KISS poster on their wall (although most terrifying was Gene Simmons' tongue beckoning to me to take a look inside his even scarier mouth, in hindsight I can see why he would've been a hit with the ladies). I remember making up songs about the moon and various other subjects and playing Atari 2600 games against my brother or my friends from school.
Slowly but surely the older brothers and sisters started moving out until there was only one older brother and I. He'd play the latest Survivor and Culture Club cassettes and sometimes groups like Chicago, Toto, and Asia could be heard coming from his bedroom-- the music of a material generation. My father would come home to watch the news and sing the praises of President Reagan over home-cooked meals with exotic names like "Hamburger Helper" and "Shake-N-Bake." My brother left for college and I left for kindergarten-- funny how twelve years can have such a profoundly different and at the same time similar effect on two people.
He was learning chemistry, I was playing in sandboxes and learning how to read. Summer came and we were reunited. He was back to his big brother tricks and I was back to being the "tormented" little brother. Swimming lessons in the morning followed by getting dunked in the afternoon in my own pool by my brother and his friends. I probably learned more from surviving the taunts and teasings of my brother and his friends than I learned from those swimming lessons.
In school my father was the principal, he'd stay there until 5:30 and I'd stay after with him, playing in the playground with the children of the other teachers or in the computer room playing games on those old green-scale Apple IIes.
Life was just so much simpler then, less stress, smaller worries... Everything seemed like a muted version of what it is noww; more relaxed and laidback. Maybe that's just what I need in my life right now-- less stress, a return to the joys of a carefree youth. It's ironic, as children we play grown-up games, pretending to be adults and once we reach adulthood we realize that we had it all wrong... Adulthood sucks, and I want back in the playground.