Tuesday, October 9, 2012
Just Write: Berenstain bears
Saturday I walked with a friend to the local thrift store, browsed on my knees through shelves of children’s books, in search of a few treasures to take home. I’ve started a collection, what I hope will be a legacy of stories and love of books passed on to children one day. My fingers slide down the spine of a tall hardcover and my eyes light with recognition of old friends - The Berenstain Bears. And this, an almanac of seasons according to the Bear family, from 1973, eight years older than me. The bubbles of letters are filled in with pen and a few scribbles mark the book as well loved. I happily take it home.
As pages turn, I turn back to younger years, and my heart remembers the feelings evoked more than two decades ago by these pictures and stories. The longing for life like this, in a hollowed out tree house with curtains in the window, black night skies with yellow stars, an owl in the tree above my window, a family sitting down to meals together and friends in the tree house across the field. Even as a child of ten years, or less, I knew. Life isn’t like this; and still, I tucked this dream in my memory.
I bring home other treasures Saturday, both hardback and paper, Spanish and English, to stow on my shelf. I follow the urge to gather leaves, to paint and laminate, and create my own autumn inside our home. As a child, I always hoped to preserve leaves forever, scattering their beauty throughout our house, only to watch them dry with brittle edges after a few days on display. We didn’t have a laminator then. So instead I constructed ghosts out of Kleenex, drew smiley faces with black marker, and hung them from our light fixtures. These would last from one year to the next, stowed in my Nona’s old wooden bureau.
Ricardo and I make a trip to Target last night and I stall near the entrance in the bargain section, always on the hunt for more treasures. A pair of turkey tea light holders, two painted wooden pumpkins, a set of plastic bowls with happy turkey faces encircling the bottom. All silly, I know, and still they set my heart giddy happy, and oh, how my husband loves me, smiling love at my enthusiasm and just going with it.
And what, really, does growing up mean, if not growing my heart wider and deeper, both childlike and wrinkled, but hopefully never brittle and withered. I grow up and I grow away from sophistication, leaning back in my chair to those days of Berenstain Bears and houses in trees and collection of leaves. And I think I prefer this because real life is everywhere and I see it with eyes wide open and I try not to hide away, but sometimes we need to preserve a cozy haven of nostalgia.
*I'm joining the wonderful community of writers at Heather's blog today for Just Write...