Sunday, December 26, 2010

from the BRG archives: Remembering Childhood

Back in the comment section of my post on "What Makes Me so Qualified to Edit Children's Books?", Anna reminded me of this quote from Ursula Nordstrom:

Asked pointedly by Anne Carroll Moore, the New York Public Library's powerful superintendent of work with children, what qualified her (Ursula), a nonlibrarian, nonteacher, nonparent, and noncollege graduate to publish children's books, Nordstrom just as pointedly replied, "Well, I am a former child, and I haven't forgotten a thing."

I'm realizing more and more that this is true for me. And I've been seeing a pattern lately where many things have reminded me of my childhood. A friend recently sent me two mix-CDs she and her husband compiled of 80s ballads that really took me back. Some of the songs included were "One More Try" by Timmy T, "Toy Soldiers" by Martika, "Glory of Love" by Peter Cetera, and "Lost in Your Eyes" by Debbie Gibson. Each song took me back to junior high and high school, each song held a memory of my childhood for me.

And then I've been thinking about New York and how much I love it here and feel at home here, and I realize that part of the reason is that I've found places to go and activities to do that bring me back to my childhood.

For example, one of my favorite after work bars in the city is Bar 9, where the next Kid's Lit Drinks night is taking place on Friday. And the biggest reason why I love it so? They have tater tots on the menu.

Another example is Barcade in Williamsburg, a bar with old-school arcade games, such as Rampage, Tetris, Ms. Pacman, Digdug, Gauntlet, Tapper, etc., all for the original price of 25 cents, unlike the fancy new arcades such as Dave and Busters and the ESPN Zone in Times Square. I wasn't a huge video game player as a kid, but I did a fair share of playing, and many an hour was spent watching my older brother and others play.

And speaking of Tetris, last Thursday I went to Nerd Nite, a monthly event held at a bar in the East Village where two speakers talk for 20 minutes on various nerdy topics. Friday's topics were neurogenesis, and Tetris. Tetris! A true Tetris scholar enlightened us on the history of the game. And as I was somewhat of a Tetris scholar myself in high school and college, I quite enjoyed the talk.

And last but not least, two Wednesdays ago I went roller skating at the Roxy for a friend's birthday. Remember back when you had your birthday party at a roller rink? I remember going around and around, spending quarters on the holographic stickers in the vending machine, doing the Hokey Pokey in the middle of the rink. This wasn't exactly the same--no stickers, not Hokey Pokey--but it was the same old-school roller skates with the rubber stop in the front. It was the same going around and around the rink to dance music. And it was the same thrill--the awkwardness the first time you go out on the floor, before you get your sea legs. The breeze of speed on your face and through your hair. The adrenaline of going fast while not quite knowing how to stop. Running into your friends as you went around.

I've grown up, for sure. I live an adult life with adult problems and responsibilities. But I remember the child I was, the shyness, the exuberance, the worries, the carefreeness. Viva the inner child!

Originally published February 5, 2007