Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Sound of Laughter

As I walked outside for lunch today, I smiled at the sound of laughter from the school behind my office. The teacher had called the students inside and their voices filled the air.

Ah, recess in the spring. I was immediately transported back to my younger years and how I had loved those sweet moments outside and away from the classroom.

My elementary school belonged to a church and our playground was a parking lot. There was a swing set off to the side and someone would draw out several hopscotch and four-square areas with chalk. A small field was next to the parking lot on one side and there was always plenty of butterflies and bees flying around. That field was where I saw my first patch of lily-of-the-valley and smelled their wondrous scent. I looked for them every spring once I had discovered where they grew. On another side of the lot was the pastor's residence which had a deep green yard and a huge shade tree. The pastor had a dog--a gorgeous and good-tempered miniature collie who adored kids and stayed in the yard like a good boy with only cement parking blocks as a barrier.

I was a quiet and shy girl growing up (people probably won't believe me knowing how I act now!) but I would often keep to myself at recess. There was nothing better than sitting on those cement blocks under the tree and petting the dog while gazing at the pastor's house and on down the street. It was a tree-lined road with beautiful white houses from the fifties, all nice and tidy with those terrific green lawns. I would imagine myself living in one, dreaming about the mysteries behind the doors. I was always excited to see if the pastor's curtains on the side window were open and I could see inside. There was a round glass lamp in the window and in my mind, I decorated the whole room around that one piece.

On a good day, I would venture out to play with my friends. Candy was my best friend and we would make elaborate outlines of house on the ground with sticks and rocks. We would pretend many things in those rooms from meal prep to entertaining to decorating (I see a theme here). Exciting times until others wanted to join in or a stupid boy would wreck it.

As we got older, there were more dramatic moments of not getting picked for teams (over and over again, I would be last) or the discovery that boys were kind of cute. Many conversations on that black top were about Ponch and Jon from CHiPs, wondering what they were like and pretending they were our boyfriends. And there was always the jumping, jumping, jumping of hopscotch or the bounce of that red rubber ball at four-square.

One momentous day that I see very clearly 30 years later, is the time that one friend taught me the words and tune to "Let's Get Physical" by Olivia Newton John. We sang it out loud to practice and deep in our hearts we knew it was wrong. It was a rock song after all. Not until years later did I discover the true meaning of the song and why it was possibly wrong to sing it. A stunning moment. In my naive Christian school state...I had thought it was talking about exercising. It's true.

As the days warm up this spring, take a moment to drive by a school mid-morning and remember. There may be some great times from your past that come rushing back.