Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Happy July 4th! -- Eve

There’s a new “Meme” making the Blogosphere rounds that asks for our earliest memory. While working on my second book today, I searched my brain for childhood summertime memories to add some authentic details. And I realized that my earliest and most vivid memories happen to be from our neighborhood July 4th parties. How appropriate!

From age 3 to 8 I lived in the most perfect little Southern California neighborhood, where all the kids were the same age and all the parents were the best of friends. Every Fourth of July we’d have an enormous block party with games and relay races and tons of loud, dangerous (and probably very illegal) fireworks. Two things stand out the most. First, I adored those little snake fireworks. You know, those round, black, nickel-sized discs that grew into log-shaped ashes when you lit them? Loved those! I looked forward to them all year. Second, it was at my first July 4th party (at age 3) that I developed my first real crush on a real boy. Alex was his name, and he was somebody’s cousin who only came around once a year to visit. From the moment we met, we were completely inseparable. And for the next five years, we were reunited and “married” every July 4th. It’s funny. It’s been almost thirty years since I’ve seen the boy, but I can still remember exactly what he looked like (thick, dark, curly hair and pudgy face), the clothes he wore when we met (blue and yellow horizontal striped shirt), and the way he made me feel when he first held my hand (to lead me across the smoky street to the curb where the “snakes” were being lit). My heart still jumps at the memory.

There’s a brilliant scene in the movie Knocked Up (which, BTW, if you haven’t seen it, I order you to drop your Hot Pocket, abandon your Lazy-Boy recliner, and run to the nearest movie theater right now!) where the two dudes are sitting watching kids at the playground and one says something like, “Watching kids play just reminds me how we forget to take pleasure in anything as adults.” Basically, he implies that as we age, the life gets sucked out of us, and we have no fun. In contrast, as kids, we could have a hunk of sand and a stick and we’d
make the fun last for hours.

I have a theory that children’s book writers are just big little kids who desperately want to recapture those days, so we naturally gravitate to the one profession that allows us to live in kid-world day after day. At least, that’s true for me. I’d give anything to be a six-year-old for life. Everything at that age is new and exciting. Your job is to play and have fun. The highlight of the year is
watching little pellets grow into ash-logs. And falling in love is as easy as holding a pudgy hand.

Happy Fourth! Now I insist you go write your name in the air with a sparkler.

- Eve


Anonymous said...

My little Peter Pan sister (in a good way, of course)! Guess what I decided to do to celebrate the 4th? Have a block party with all my neighbors and their kids with swimming and fireworks. It won't be quite the same as Sycamore Street, but I'm tryin'. And, I'll be watching J.B. to see if he "marries" anyone - unlikely, since he usually chases the girls around with play weapons, but a mom can hope, right? Thanks for "sparking" some memories for me. Happy 4th, love you, mean it, Lamy

Becky Levine said...

Ooh--I'll have to do the earliest memory on my blog later. BUT...this is so funny. I don't remember at ALL what the little black worms looked like at the start, but I totally remember the ashy worms lying all over the driveway the next morning--after my dad and his best friend did warring fireworks displays (Lions vs. Kiwanis) on the 4th. AND--probably my first crush, too--one of the older Moreno boys popping wheelies on his bike up and down the street. Obviously showing off for us little girls, and it completely worked!

Thanks for the trip back in time.

Rilla said...

Hey Eve,
thanks for taking up my tag. Loved the memories. We had those black snake things back in India too. Of course we celebrated a completely different holiday with fireworks. But mom would save the fireworks from October till July and we'd have some then too ;)
"From age 3 to 8 I lived in the most perfect little Southern California neighborhood, where all the kids were the same age and all the parents were the best of friends" Sounds like you could start your own Lake Woebegone, Southern California Home Companion!
And I for one am all for NEVER growing up ;)

Laini Taylor said...

"Children's writers are just little kids. . ." Well, check out this link to see the T-shirt I was wearing just last night:

I completely agree with you. There are good things about being "grown up" but not so much that you ever have to let go of the good things of being a kid!

P.S. my word verification is "nnuppy" -- isn't that a funny word?

heidi said...

beautiful, eve---i love the last paragraph. soo soo true. in my case anyway. =9

happy fourth everybody!

Colorado Writer said...

Every year on the 4th of July, we'd pile in the car with sodas and blankets. My dad would drive like a maniac towards the edge of town, pick a spot on the side of the road and pull over.

We got to sit on hood of the car to watch the fireworks display. And while we waited, we'd do sparklers.

Happy 4th, everyone!

My brother always waved them around and got yelled at for being wild. My sister would usually cry because she was scared, and I would try to block them all out because being with my family on the side of the road was so embarrassing.

Lisa Yee said...

. . . and a Happy Fourth to you and the other Mermaids!!!

LindaBudz said...

Hmm, my first memory was of being embarrassed. Yours is of falling in love. No fair. Story of my life!

Happy, happy 4th!!

Disco Mermaids said...

Ha-ha! Funny memories, guys. CW, that is sooo the opening of a book right there. Can I borrow it?

Hope everyone had a good 4th. We did. But I couldn't find any snakes in these parts. Waaahhh. Did they ban them for being too messy or something?

Happy 5th of July!


Colorado Writer said...

Yes, you can borrow it.Seriously being with my family were some of the most embarrassing times in my life. Actually, it still is most of the time!

Anyone get burned by a sparkler? I did--on my toe.