The Warmth of Denver
If one wishes to know about my childhood, one need only to picture this: a warm winter afternoon seen through a chilly Denver window. Perched on an ugly plaid couch is a new dad with a new baby belly atop his palm. He always held her there, in the air, as he looked over his endless research. This straight-backed man comes from a successful family of hardworking men, all doctors; he learned to write medical papers from a book. On his self-built path, each brick was his own triumph. His elbow is bent now, and his palm feels weighted with a precious bundle of all that is right about the world. In this scene we see a vision of right, but the next involves the real path to goodness: a mother.
She stands inside a kitchen, near the window, looking out. A little girl plays in a backyard compiled of her dreams. The toddler is a standout in all of the afternoon sunbeams; the girl wears a smile the mother will always think lights up every room. She has but one wish for her child: a shining future with zero gloom. The tenderness in this motherly glance will surely lead the way.
For further elucidation of the scenery in my girlhood, a flip to any page in my diary will show the story. I was startled to see that almost everyday of my doodling and scratched writing was spent at various daycares. My mother and father were busy with work and hobbies, so a good majority of the pages tell of Sherry. You see, Sherry would fill us up with the very cheesiest Mac and cheese. Plus, there were a guaranteed five other kids in the messed maze of rooms. Piano lessons were on Tuesdays, and everyday seemed like a treat. One had only to travel down Quebec, to the right, and then straight to the first sunny, leaf blown, suburban-ly gorgeous hill of a street. "Rosalind Way . . . drop her off, will ya, hun?" "Sure, okay." My first chickenpox was caught here along with many overnight stays. This is also where the bus would drop me off after second grade school days. Sherry had an unforgettable matronly side smile; though her exact features are a blur, this incredible hugged feeling grabs me when my thoughts trail back to her household.
My diary seeps with this heavily pleasant weight. The colors of the television come to life with Full House in full glow. The nineties and everyone involved in my young Denver years holds this kind of constant hope. One is sure to read of Marlese on my journal pages. Marlese-y would, upon request, keep my big crush away when I took a nap with my pacifier. In her gigantic and enchanted backyard, we'd play ninja turtle games. I was "April." There were roly polies behind the great bushes along the fence line that Marlesy shared with my across- the- street neighbor. He was this wildly inquisitive, balding boatsman and pilot. His backyard held the first giant tire swing of my youth. I recall inventing homework to do at the table of Marlesy's to be with that older crush of mine. I guess I was there on Wednesdays, mostly, because I remember that the kids and I would crowd around the screen door to watch the trash men when they came. I remember Marlesey's foreign edge. She had the "parts is parts" attitude about her. She was wildly down to earth, and her manner is one I'd like to match someday.
What you will see on these diary pages most, however, are references to Alicia. Her house was great: almost too delightful of a picture to fully paint. For my first steps she was three inches nearby to tug me down. I lust for those cold winter nights spent in a living room constantly rearranged by her retired hippy mom or her burnout painter dad. She had a cuckoo clock, a pull-out couch, and a downstairs hot tub that we all loved so much. In the summer we'd sprawl in her square lot to draw another cat to add to our collection. In the mornings we would eat Honey Nut Cheerios on her slide, and we could see over the fence to the next square lot if we swung up high. We would sing Old McDonald; we really would! Inner-city Denver seems a heck of a lot friendlier when I think back on the days spent in her home. She was my very first and best friend. She had this dearness to her that adults could easily write off as whiney. If I were to meet the young version of her today, I would still be wild about the girl. The energy that drove her drives me a little, even still. Her parents were divorcing, and she was very close with her father. He would drive the car in figure eights to delight us, and together they had more than enough crude songs to fill up our car rides. I really do wonder how they all are now.
These people opened their hearts and doors for me when my parents were busy elsewhere. I remember spending my eighth birthday with the flu and Sherry. She would give me the room with the down-feather pillows so that I could knock on her door first thing in the cold morning. At times in my young life, Sherry, Marlese, and Alicia's mother were all second mothers to me. The three of them and my own dear parents combined to warm my little girl soul with their care and big wishes. Though I now live states away from this girlhood, I remember the warmth vividly and fondly. There is no doubt and also nothing vague about those who first softened my outlook on the way things work. To see unrelated families, from all levels of income and insight, in action, so early on, definitely impacted me. I understand that everyone is shaped by his or her upbringing. The people around us, especially when we are very young and malleable, can impact the way we think, do, and view things. Looking back, my eyes were opened to the warmth involved with sensitivity in all of my earliest memories. I have learned that love can come from any angle, and it can be seen in every picture in the photo albums of one lucky little girl.