This week I am sharing some of my favorite excerpts from contributing writers’ work for the Essays on Childhood project. Contributors range from experienced professional writers to first-time essayists.
Click here to find out how to join us this year! http://essaysonchildhood.com/contact-the-project/
Once I strolled down the beach with my mom when I was a little girl. We were looking for shells after a long day of salty air and strong sun and my eyes were tired. To be honest, I did not really want to be there except my mom and I always looked for shells together and there was nowhere else to go. I kept staring at the grains of sand and could only find thin, cracked shells that had been tossed one too many times in the powerful arms of the ocean.
Although my mom did not want to pick those shells up, I thought they were the most beautiful ones. Their colors were the most vibrant and I imagined that if they could talk, the broken ones would have the most interesting story.
The world you know as a child is the one given you. You move because your parents move. You are from here or from there because your parents tell you so. You grow up in a religious group and are told it began on Pentecost Sunday and you believe this to the point of arguing in fifth grade with Catholics about primacy of origin, utterly ignorant that Campbell and Stone were 19th century Americans and that your particular religious group was born in the hills of Kentucky. Children live and move about in a world presided over by adults. The lucky ones never have to call into question that world, get to bounce about enveloped in love, oblivious to most anything but their wants. We were lucky and parental love covered over many sins.
My childhood began as if on a hot-air balloon ride, and Jess was the flame that thrust me into the clouds. The view from on high was magnificent, and the world looked as it does from dizzying heights: sparkling, orderly, a perfect grid. That fateful November day, my flame died, and I watched my childhood come crashing back down to earth at a paralyzing speed, thrusting me into the mud and the muck so long forgotten. It was years before I had the courage to lift my head and look at the messy, chaotic world around me.
These days I don’t have much time to spend with guns. Other things always seem to get in the way. However, my love for shooting has never faltered. To me, there is nothing better than holding that cold metal in your hands and feeling the power released by pulling the trigger. The sound, the smell, the end result of seeing your bullet hit the target is all so amazingly beautiful. Each and every time I am able to go out and shoot, I am reminded of my childhood days. The memories come rushing back to me: I can smell the sweet mountain air of Liberty, West Virginia. I can see Ginger lying on the porch watching us. I feel the happiness of childhood.
Once again, I’m that little girl standing on the wooden porch at the house in Liberty waiting for Dad’s approval on my shot.