Thursday, May 10, 2018

When I was a kid, my bedroom had eight windows. It ran the length of the house and was originally a sun porch, and I shared it with 2-3 sisters at any given time, so it wasn't always my favorite place, but I really got used to those windows, I guess.

I was usually afforded an end of the room (as opposed to my baby sister, who always got stuck in the middle, and my older sister, who was only there part-time and had to share whereever we could fit her in), which meant one of the big windows. Only slightly smaller across than my twin bed was long, and within six inches of the ceiling type big.

Once the spring rolled around, our windows were almost always open, particularly once the heat of the summer hit - we did not have air conditioners when I was a kid, and one of my sisters once tried to stick her hand into a fan, so our room didn't qualify for one of those, even at night. Living across the street from a parking lot, there were occassional nights filled with fools and their clinking beer bottles, hollering at each other (mostly happily), while I lay under my threadbare Strawberry Shortcake sheet, sweating and terrified (beer bottles clinking is a noise that a child of alcoholics identifies as decidely NOT GOOD pretty early on). But for the most part, everything about having the windows open was a delight to me.

I was not an outdoorsy kid.
(I am not an outdoorsy adult.)

But in our house, especially during summer vacation, if it was nice out, you were outside.
That's just how us 80s kids rolled, really: Go outside, get into trouble, don't slam the screendoor when you try to sneak back inside for a drink or a popsicle, make sure you haven't gone so far that you can't hear when Mom calls or Dad whistles, and if you do go farther than that, ask for permission first.

We played in the schoolyard next door a lot (it's locked now, which always makes me sad: although I'd prefer not to relive the many many games of Sting I lost to my siblings and their friends in that particular square of cracked asphalt, it's sad that the kids in our neighborhood don't have a place to go now, like we did then) - seemingly endless games of Sting and Dodge and baseball-oh-my-god-NTE, How-did-you-manage-to-get-hit-by-the-ball-if-you-were-sitting-around-the-corner???

I wasn't good at any of those types of things, but my brother let me hang out with him and his friends. My cousins taught me the best hiding places and one summer I was finally old enough to ride my bike further than the first corner and back again. I did outdoorsy things, and I had a good time, but I needed book time, no matter that it was summer.  I needed 'in my head' time, no matter that there was never any quiet.

I'm thankful that my mother (and grandmothers, both) is/are avid readers and recognized my bookish nature. (My mother used to punish me by taking books away, the same way she'd take my brother's baseball cards, or my sister's cell phone many years later.  My mom has good aim, that's for sure.)

So even though the rule was "go outside, get out of the house, please don't kill each other or bother me unless someone is bleeding", when I would sneak back into the house after a few hours of being bruised by whichever ball the boys had in their vicinity (it didn't matter if I was playing WITH them or not, just being near sports equipment usually meant damage for me, somehow), and would wind up flat on my bed with a book in my hand and the breeze coming in the big window, my mom never really minded that much.

Sure, I'd get the occassional reprimand or - especially the summer I had to get reading glasses and getting used to wearing them was giving me headaches - I would be reading and suddenly have the book plucked out of my hands by said mother, who'd inform me that outside and fresh air were waiting for me yet again.

But for the most part, laying there on my bed, having the lace curtains (and we should really talk about the fruitless inefficiency of having see-through curtains, sometime, if I can remember to do that) tickling my legs or the back of my (usually sunburned) neck while I read about living in the middle of the Big Woods or how Christmas just wouldn't be Christmas without presents, are some of my very favorite childhood memories of summer.

They're the reason I'm looking for windows while apartment searching, even though I'm allergic to the sun. They're the reason I keep the windows open even though it's way past chilly enough to close them for the day. They're the reason I've got freaking sheer curtains when I'd do better with black-out ones. And they're the reason that laying here on my queen-sized bed, reading for five hours while the breeze blows in beside me feels like such a treat just now. (So can I blame them for getting nothing else done? I think I'm going to. "Fell down a nostalgia well while reading Avengers fanfic; excused from real life today.")

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