Just Another Day in Paradise

Not knowing what to expect from a parent on any given day makes you realize that your life is going to be at various times:

My sister Abby and I soon learned that our mother was not dependable and so it was up to my sister and I to figure out what kind of day we would have. We could choose to be

“Nervous Nellie”, “Anxious Alice”, “Schizophrenic Susie”, “Phobic Phoebe” or “Fit Throwing Phyllis”. Instead we decided to just be ourselves and to make our own way in life. We had great imaginations, loved to read and think and learn new things, and we knew how to have fun without spending much money.

We loved paper dolls. Paper dolls were exactly that. Made out of paper, as were their clothes. We would spend hours cutting them out with all their fancy outfits and loved the imaginary play of pretending to be famous movie stars. Most paper dolls were fashioned after famous celebrities. Like Doris Day, Debbie Reynolds or June Allyson  (I know this is dating us!; look them up, if you don’t know who they are).

I also spent an inordinate amount of time coloring in, you guessed it, something called coloring books. I know they still have coloring books today, but it seems like they are used primarily to promote children’s movies or products. I wanted to perfect my coloring ability so I would sometimes outline the object to color and then lightly color the inside, or maybe I would color everything lightly or dark. My goal was to complete an entire coloring book with as few mistakes as possible. Neatness was imperative. Maybe being a kindergarten dropout had something to do with my obsession.

School buildingIn Taylorville, since Abby was in school all day, I was the town urchin. Mother liked to say about me, from an early age, that I loved to “walk the streets.” Thank goodness she didn’t call me a street walker!

Seedy dive barIt is true that I spent quite a bit of time by myself, which was preferable to hanging out with an alcoholic adult, known as Mother. My imagination took me all kinds of places, from a spilled bit of oil that became a rainbow when the sun shined just right, to a mound of dirt that became Pikes Peak, to treasure I found as I walked all over town.

Abby and I were lucky in oh so many ways.  We had each other, a wonderful, fabulous Dad and the ability to be ourselves in spite of everything around us. That’s a pretty good place to be!

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