Whenever I visit with my mother, it’s inevitable that my mind shifts to the experiences of growing up in St. Louis. I suppose it’s not uncommon for an individual to feel “haunted” as it were by the place in which he or she grew up. The memories of one’s formative years make an indelible impression.
Oftentimes, as last night when we enjoyed dinner with my sister and brother-in-law, our conversation turns to childhood memories: foods we ate (and hated) in childhood, people we knew way back when, places we frequented and how they’ve changed (or haven’t) through the years. It’s usually a pleasant walk down memory lane.
Sometimes when I’m in town, we drive over the river and visit the “old neighborhood” which is actually just another nearby St. Louis suburb. Though I spent only the first eighteen years of my life here, the memories of those years come flooding forward and it seems like only yesterday when those experiences first took place.
Sixth grade represents the beginning of an era for me, the period when I first began to be more keenly aware of the world around me … that there was, in fact, a larger world outside what I’d known with my family (both the immediate and extended family). Memories from sixth grade through high school are the ones to which I return most often when I’m in this city because those come from that crucial period when I transitioned from a child into an adult.
To celebrate the 5th day of National Poetry Month, here’s a nostalgic poem about an incident from sixth grade. The poem recounts the pangs of first “love” as I remember them. I’ve taken liberties in recalling my first “romance.” (I didn’t have a best friend named Kelly, but it worked with the rhyme scheme. If other parts of the tale are manufactured, perhaps my memory has been unfairly selective? A girl can be forgiven, right?)
Nevertheless, I think the poem accurately portrays a little girl’s broken heart due to the early disappointment of a perceived betrayal.
The good news? I did learn to love again.