Sweet Sentiments-Returning to our Childhoods

they got savagely eaten 10 seconds after the shot.

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Okay, I admit it: there’s one place in this city where I am instantly recognized the moment I step in the door. Yes, in a city with three million people and enough tourists to create our own Model U.N.  Ahh, the candy store. And really, at first I wasn’t embarrassed, thinking that the staff must have fantastic customer service skills to be able to recognize their patrons (perhaps I shouldn’t give so much credit when I’m the only one tall enough to see over the counter). But as I kept returning, the staff began engaging me in conversation as if we were old friends, reminding me about details of our past discussions and even (gasp!) remembering my husband’s name! That’s when it got out of control.

In all fairness, I tried to stop going due to sheer embarrassment, but there’s something about those walls of sugary bliss that I just cannot, and will not, resist. So as I walked home last week, somewhere between noshing on chocolate raisins and sour gummy bears, I began to wonder why we all can’t seem to resist the lure of our favourite childhood desires. Are we drawn to the memories of childhood, or is childhood a universal place that we never really leave?

Our biggest mistake is to believe that we all stop being kids at some arbitrary point in time and then start being adults at another point. We all grow up assuming that one day we will reach that magical birthday when we shed our childish ways and suddenly feel like adults. But I haven’t met anyone, even amongst the over-the-hill crowd, who has admitted to reaching that point yet. Everyone keeps insisting that they still feel young and carefree, that they are still trying to figure out life. And you can see the proof just by watching The Real Housewives party until they can’t stand up anymore or by flipping on C-SPAN and watching grown men look flat-out b-o-r-e-d for three hours. There isn’t a pre-designed manual on how to act like an “adult”—we all just make some good guesses about life based on our reservoir of experiences and then live with the illusion that everyone else knows what the heck is going on (don’t worry if your reservoir seems to be in the middle of a drought…mine does too).

Only a couple of days ago I ran down the street in my neon-green, orange-laced Nike sneakers, and a five-year-old girl pointed at my feet and exclaimed: mommy, preeetty shoooes! I chuckled inside, not because of the memories of youthful jubilance, but because when I found those shoes at the store last summer, the voice inside my head sounded exactly like that little girls’. Ohhh, preeetty shoooes!  Yes, I know I’m an adult by my age. I just don’t feel like one.

So the next time you order ice cream with extra sprinkles on top, dance to the Spice Girls in your bedroom, or nab that extra scoop of sour gummies, remind yourself that everyone else is permanently young and carefree, too. And nobody has quite figured out what it means to be a grown-up, whether they admit it or not.

Even the gents on C-SPAN have probably done a cannonball or two in their lifetimes.


About OneWeekToCrazy

Writer in my real life, Milton in my work life. Damn it feels good to be a gangsta.

Posted on June 7, 2012, in Formers&Latters and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 34 Comments.

  1. Writers know they’ve failed when they begin to feel like grown ups! Great fun, though I don’t fancy myself in those trainers. William.

  2. Thank you. I am so impressed with how well you write. The story was fun and true too.

    Carl Dunlap

  3. Love this post! “Growing up” is an issue I’ve struggled with for many years (I write about this theme in my book). I think that when we’re creative types we always have one foot securely placed in childhood because of our imaginations. Most people rarely use their imaginations once they’ve grown into their adult years, and imagination is what separates the kids from “the big kids.” Although I must say that when I became a parent the rules of the game changed, and I started to feel more like an adult. But even grownups can have a wicked sweet tooth!

  4. Great post! I feel the same way, ha! And I probably shouldn’t at my age, but as my grandmother always used to say, you’re only as young as you feel and sometimes I can’t even believe I’m the age I really am and wonder how I got there and when all that happened.

    I could be perfectly giddy as well over bright colorful shoes, but I don’t think I know a female who doesn’t love shoes. And I love chocolate and extra sprinkles, but what can I say?

  5. Very interesting and sooo me too. Good work.

  6. Forever Young 😀 Fun post 😉

  7. Nice post. I have often wondered about the sense of bliss I get from different moments in life. For me, one strong emotional situation is going for walks in the neighborhood here in LA in the sunshine, seeing the different houses and looking out over sun drenched vistas. I get a strange, almost dreamlike feeling akin to nostalgia. I’ve wondered if this is triggering childhood memories of summertime, and maybe to a certain extent it is. But I don’t think I was necessarily always blissful in those moments as a child.

    So, your point about where childhood ends, psychologically, is an interesting one. I don’t think the blissful emotion or my altered state of consciousness is simply a happy memory of childhood. I think it’s something ineffable, something that has more to do with eternity — a timeless moment — than it does with a specific time in our past.

    • That was really beautifully said Robert–I’ve always wondered if people growing up in different areas (urban, suburban, rural, etc) experience the same feelings of emotional attachment to their childhoods. I grew up in a small town in the midwest, so it’s difficult for me to imagine childhood in LA, but based on your description, it sounds breathtaking and very memorable! Thank you for the response!

      • Speaking of LA, I didn’t grow up there either, but in south TX, but once I saw it at 16 I knew I had to live there, which I did for 25 years sometime later. It was absolutely beautiful in those days, lots of flowers and bougainvillea everywhere and palm trees. The orange groves grew on the sides of the freeways and other roads. Of course much of that is long gone, but I’ll never forget it and that’s how I’ll always remember it I guess and not all the smog, pollution and gangs, etc.of today.

      • Awww, well, it’s good you have the memories of pre-smog LA 🙂

  8. Great post, Courtney. I love to think of childhood as place we never really leave, as you so eloquently put it. Now as a fellow Chicagoan and candy-lover, which candy store are you talking about?! 😉

  9. Great post! This is so true. Though I know some people who felt like they were already responsible grownups by age 10, other people (like me) probably will always act like a kid in little ways, even after we have responsibility figured out. I hope you never stop staying ‘pretty shoes!’ and keep that fun-loving lifestyle.

  10. scribbleofhappygoluckygal

    this sucha truth.. me too never felt i had grown ..:):)

  11. Jennifer Worrell

    My kids ensure that I’ll keep playing. I loved this;)

  12. This was great and I can’t tell you how much this resonates with me! We should all embrace being kids at heart. Also, your sneakers do sound soooo pretty! I must confess I’ve entertained the thought of buying some light up sneakers on more than one occasion. I feel so cathartic admitting it here!

    • Yay for light-ups! Life would be so fun if every adult was required to wear those (I mean, how stressful could it be to work in business/politics/government if everyone was tromping around in cool shoes?)! 🙂

  13. Agreed! I often find myself getting verklempt over distant memories of yester-years.

  14. Hi Courtney! What an enjoyable read! Yes. In every grown up is the spirit of the child. Thus, why I still don’t know what I wanna be when I grow up….LOL!

  15. Reblogged this on EMPOWERED RESULTS ~ Creating A Difference In Our Communities… and commented:
    Here is an enjoyable read for you my friends! So, what do you wanna do today that takes your childhood? Watch cartoons (anime), play in the sand (beach), go on an adventure (roller skating)…Whatever your nostalgic moment is, have fun doing it!

  16. Haha that was really entertaining. So true. We never actually finish growing up on the inside ;]

  17. your writing is very entertaining and thought-provoking Courtney! Good combination! I think life is all about transitions. There certainly are stages probably strongly related to dependence or independence and then who depends on us. But look how we ‘created’ what now seems truly real – adolescence/teenage. It came from nowhere. I am in my 60s, don’t really feel like a kid, but do feel like me!

  18. Hi Courtney! Love your blog, and thanks for liking mine!

    I love the Growing Up article and I think there really is no reason for growing up. You can grow in knowledge, spirit, and understanding, but you should never step out of those galoshes that allow you to jump in puddles.

    Keep up the great writing, as we all love to read what you have to say!

  19. Veey nice :), thanks for remembering

  20. I like to think all that ‘nostalgia’ power they talk about on Mad Men is based on reality: I am always drawn for nostalgic reasons to certain childhood things, like candy. Back when you could buy a can of real Coke (not today’s crappy facsimile) and a real Mars bar for like, a quarter of the price… ahhh…

  21. Now I have the urge for an ice cream sundae … of course preceded by lactaid.

  22. Don’t be embarrassed! I’m a regular at the local frozen yogurt place, and it has its perks. I get free bottles of water, and they open a new register for me when there’s a long line.

  23. Great post, very true, and fun! 😀

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