childhood memories

the arrival of warm, summer evenings evokes a peaceful, familiar feeling. along with the sunny days, balmy breezes, sandal-clad feet and the promise of what is to come, there lie the memories of a little girl and carefree summers long gone.

my father used to own a toyota celica – what a cool car! back in the less-restrictive days of motor vehicle travel, dad would pop the trunk, and drive around with all five of us kids practically hanging out the back. it’s a wonder we never got pulled over by the cops, and this practice continued for years, it seems. on more than one occasion, i fell asleep in the trunk and was locked in when the rest of the family went inside.

in this fashion, we were chauffered to soccer games, church, the occasional ice cream stop at the infamous kay’s. but summer elicits the memory of one destination in particular: oakland beach. we would drive there with 80s music blasting from the speakers, dad painfully yet delightfully squeezing the knee of whomever landed in the front seat in time to the music – “eye of the tiger” being one of the favorites for its jumpy beat.

upon arriving, we would get doughboys and old-fashioned sodas at gus’s. a long-jumping contest ensued, with each of us kids taking turns to see who could jump the farthest in the cool, grainy sand of the deserted beach. despite the fact that we’re a somewhat competitive bunch, i don’t remember who won – perhaps we were more concerned with getting another doughboy or stopping at kay’s on the way home.

to this day, whenever i’m driving around at night with the windows open, my hair blowing in the warm breeze, i turn up the radio and imagine driving around in the celica, getting doughboys and old-fashioned sodas, long-jumping on the beach, with not a care in the world.

* * *

i don’t recall how old i was, but there was a time in my younger days when i thought that anything on the ground was free. that’s right – if it had fallen on the ground, it was fair game, there for anyone to take.

one day, my aunt took one of my brothers and me to the mall. while she tried on clothes, i roamed the store with a brown paper bag clutched in my hand, stopping to retrieve “free” items off the floor. one item in particular held my fancy – one of those see-three jelly change purses. i held it in my hand and played with the liquid glitter floating inside; i dropped it on the floor, hence deeming it proper to claim as my own. i hit the jackpot when i got to the jewelry carousel – all sorts of shiny, sparkly items were lying on the floor in the area surrounding the display.

when we got home, i hid my treasure under a pile of clothes in my room. my sister started calling me a thief; i got scared and began to cry. i didn’t want to go to jail! my aunt got wind of my escapades, and demanded to see the bag; i hesitantly complied.

in the end, somewhat dazed and confused, i was brought back to the store where i returned all the stolen merchandise and meekly apologized. thus my conscience was born, however unwelcome at the time.