I grew up in a suburb of northern Delaware. My family is from South Carolina—just outside Charleston in Goose Creek and James Island—so my upbringing was grounded in southern sensibilities and ways of being. In fact, most of my summers growing up involved trips to South Carolina to visit my extended family. I can remember my grandmama making her famous secret recipe tortillas in the kitchen—and my mom and my aunt (her daughters) teasing her with “are they done yet, mama?” All of us cousins meanwhile were running around outside playing tag amongst the blooms of my grandmama’s backyard garden, totally oblivious to the mosquitoes and the bees of course. My granddaddy was conducting his usual business of cooking on the grill and tending the garden while dressed in his denim overalls with the red sweat rag in the back right pocket, worn-in tee shirt, and his straw hat (if you’ve ever spent time outside in the summer in the south, then you understand his attire and accoutrements).
For summers not spent in the south, I was still outside or at the neighborhood pool with my best friend Elizabeth. Our families grew up together—her house was across the street from mine, so we all saw a lot of each other (and have the home-movies to prove it). Her three older brothers, my two older brothers, and the two of us made for some entertaining games of flashlight tag, catch-and-release lightning bugs, roller skating, and just general mischief and fun. Mind you this was all before the internet or when “gaming” was a way of life—we all spent our time outside, in the dirt and rolling around in the grass or by the pool, all the while making up crazy stories to share and taking every opportunity to add yet another totally hilarious moment to our arsenal of “inside jokes.”
I know I’m one of the lucky ones to say I had a great childhood. I thank God everyday for the chance to have been a kid. Tanned skin and scuffed knees, sore bellies from laughing so hard, and fond memories to last a lifetime.