Thursday, June 08, 2006

Some Forgotten Yesterday

All evening I've had a song stuck in my head. It's The Best of Times, written by Jerry Herman, from the musical La Cage Aux Folles. The lyrics are pretty short, but powerful:

The best of times is now
What's left of summer but a faded rose?
The best of times is now
As for tomorrow well, who knows, who knows, who knows?

So hold this moment fast
And live and love as hard as you know how
And make this moment last
Because the best of times is now, is now, is now!

Now, not some forgotten yesterday
Now, tomorrow is too far away...

(repeat second verse)

I've been thinking about this song in connection with Pat's entry this morning about one of those "Remember When..." lists that periodically make the rounds of the Internet. They are seemingly designed to make you feel nostalgic, not to mention old - or possibly young, if you don't remember the stuff that's listed. Pat (DesLily) muses about this as follows:

Most ask at the end of a list like that, if you wouldn't want to go back to "those times". The truth is, most would!

For me I thought, yes I would like to revisit that time, but not "to be young again" necessarily, but because when we were that young (and those that are now) are free of major responsibilities, free to think only of their self. It was a time of ignorance of what's to come (not that it's all bad) and to be not to have major worries or concerns. So, would I like to feel like that again? You betcha ! But would I like to be young again? Well... not THAT young! But I wouldn't mind having the 10 yrs of my 40's again.

Well, I thought about this for a moment. It quickly became clear to me that I'd never want to go back to the time and age of my childhood, except perhaps for a quick visit, adult knowledge and sensibilities intact. I like to think about Manlius Elementary and Pleasant Street School, Swan Pond and Snook's Pond, Sno Top and Temple's Dairy Store, Monopoly with Joel and Barbies with Cindy, all those iconic memories of childhood; but I still remember that I didn't enjoy those years much at all. I didn't get on well with my peers at school, and I was often lonely at home. I regret not figuring out the social skills I needed until many years later, but I still wouldn't want to be forced into a ten-year do-over by God, Time Fate or Whatever (that's a Quantum Leap reference, folks), trying to get it right the second time around.

Really, what was so wonderful about living in 1963? Lower gas prices? Sure, but the cars were gas guzzlers, had no seat belts, and drove on slow two-lane highways. President Kennedy? He had his lapses, but I'll grant you he was a great president. Then he got killed, plunging the country into a national trauma. Mom and Pop businesses? One such business in Manlius was burned down by the Mafia. Television? Our tv set was still black and white and snowy, and there were only three or four channels. Milk delivery? Forget to bring it in first thing in the morning, and there would be ice on top in winter, sour milk in summer. Penny candy? Perhaps I'd have done better with my weight had I not started out with Tootsie Rolls and root beer barrels.

The carefree world of childhood, free from pressures and responsibilities? That was never my world. By the time I was six years old, my mom was in and out of hospitals with polio encephalitis, and I think a nervous breakdown. One day, in the heat of the moment, my dad gave me the impression I was partly to blame. I also still carry some guilt for telling my mom that if she died, I hoped my next mom would be even better, and the one after that, better still, as each mom died in turn. In second grade, I did my best to learn a dance routine for my mom's musical, DeManleyville '65. I never could quite get it right. No, I had stress, always.

Toys? Furniture? Decor? Well, yeah. I've said before that I want to go shopping in the 1960s. But then I want to bring my purchases home to 2006. Yes, my friends. The best of times is now, is now, is now...!

I have more to say, but it's 2 AM. We'll continue this another time.


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DesLily said...

thanks for the mention Karen!

Love the pics when you were a kid lol.. I sometimes wonder if it's a blessing or a curse that we only really remember "some" of when we were young.. you'd think, "we lived it so we should remember it".. but instead we only rembember "some"..ah well

Barbara said...

I agree I wouldn't want to be a kid again. I would like to visit my parents and maybe bring back some stuff from when I was a kid. I'd love to take some good pictures of my parents. But live there/relive that time. NO way once was enough.

Carly said...


Make the present even better...let the guilt go already! We all said things as children that we wish we hadn't and the same goes for our parents. It's called being HUMAN! Humans do things they wish they didn't, but to continue to abuse yourself over it makes no sense and robs you of today, and tomorrow. You know that...right? When you were a child you couldn't possibly understand the gravity of your words. Forgive the child you and move on as the adult you.

Bea said...

Karen, I'm cruising around to catch up on the journal alerts I missed while I was away last week. Would I love to go back to the 60's? I was ten in 1963. Ten was a good age. In fact, for me 8-12 were very good years. The reality of life was carefree play, I loved being a little girl, I had friends who lived nearby, I was doing well in school. I fell in love with a boy. My parents had not burned out raising 7 children. I was the oldest, the first to hit the teen years. But would I want to go back and do it over? No, there is no time I would want to return to because if I went back with the wisdom of my age now, it would not be the same. I love reading stories about children in that period of time before awareness of the big pictures claims their innnocence, before disappointments and sorrows cloud their vision for the future. I love reading about the transition from being selfish and carefree, to being more self-giving and responsible. We all make that transition, some at a younger age than others, but it is a turning point when we realize that we have to contribute to the world, and to our own happiness, and the happiness of others. I treasure all my turning points, and I treasure all my childhood memories, even the painful, dark ones. They are uniquely mine, but I know others have experienced similar moments. It's what binds us together. I've said words, and I've thought thoughts against my family. I've dreamed dreams in the night that I would not wish to experience again. We don't have to speak of every wound in great detail, but we know the heart breaks easily in living. We also know the heart can withstand some pretty big holes, and continue to love and give. I'd love to hold my dad one more time and tell him again that I loved him dearly. And my sister, I would love to hold her face in my hands and tell her how much she meant to me when she was a child. I would never dream to go back in my life to do anything over. Like Barbara said in her comment, living those years once is enough! Just grateful that it made me who I am today. And joyfully looking ahead for more surprises because my heart still beats!