Mom hadn’t always been depressed.
I recall happier times. Like the Fourth of July when Mom blew off her own thumbnail while teaching my older brother how to make firecrackers explode in mid-air.
The key, she explained, was in holding it for just the right amount of time after putting punk to fuse. Too much explanation. Not enough self-awareness.
Picnics in the city park next to the lily pond.
Homemade ice cream with a just-right excess of vanilla flavoring.
Fried chicken and potato salad. Corn on the cob. Croquet.
Climbing the mulberry tree in the backyard.
The scent of clean sheets fresh off the line. Sleeping outside in a homemade tent made from two old blankets pinned to the clothesline. The old neighbor who build a clubhouse out of 2 x 2’s draped with old quilts. Ah, the smell of those old quilts, moist with dew.
The clubhouse could be anything. And it was. Sometimes it was a lemonade stand. Sometimes a house. Sometimes a secret hiding place to stay out of the hot summer sun.
Earlier times were filled with other play houses. Once I created an entire home within our screened in porch, using only cardboard boxes and a box of crayons.
Fun with the neighborhood kids.
Theater skits in the old barn down the street. Barbie parties. Creating clothes and shoebox playhouses for short ugly troll dolls whose faces were frozen in hideous grins.
Hide and go seek. Catching fireflies and listening to the locusts. Thunderstorms. And fans that attempted without success to cool things down enough to be able to sleep.
And I loved school.
Bluebird stickers on a poster about “Trees.”
Corduroy pants under dresses for the cold walk to school.
The smell of dry leaves in the fall and the mustiness of the ground beneath.
Christmas trees made from green construction paper and multicolored tissue paper.
Mom’s warm chocolate cookies and ice cold milk waiting for me in our steamy kitchen.