When we were kids and played "chase" or "hide-n-go-seek", there was always someone chasing us. If they caught us, then in the next round, we were the chaser. It was always bad to be the chaser. We always wanted to be the chased. Endless rounds of games.

I grew up in a neighborhood with lots of kids. We played and we fought and we turned into "us" and "them". Constant divisions and groupings. Arguments resolved, new arguments started. But, it seemed we spent most of our time chasing one another; on foot or on bikes. Boys against the girls, this side of the street against that one. Then, we'd all end up at one house eating them out of popsicles or Kool-Aid.

I remember playing one day where we were all crowded in the neighbors tool shed. I'm sure it was summer and we were all roasting in there, but it didn't matter. We were having fun (remember fun? that wanton doing of whatever you want to do without feeling guilty for doing that instead of dishes or dusting?) Don't remember the name of the game, but there was a hen and the rest of us were eggs. The eggs each got a color. The wolf stood outside and recited some rhyme that ended with a color and if you were the egg with that color, you had to run out of the shed and across the yard. If you got caught, you were the wolf. I always had a mental image of that game that involved and egg costume with just arms and legs sticking out, like the ham costume in To Kill a Mockingbird.

In all those games, there was always a "safe" spot. I can remember running full steam into the side of the house and hitting it with the flats of my hands and shouting "SAFE!". Or running full tilt for a door until someone's mother shouted "Stop hitting that screen door!" At some point, these games always dissolved into somthing like "No, I was safe! I'm not going to be the wolf. I swear I was safe." and then there would be a division. Sometimes one player would be drummed out of the game for being a bad sport. Sometimes we would divide into groups and a block feud would ensue. And, all over whether we were "safe".

Okay, didn't matter that we were in a neighborhood where everyone knew everyone else and everyone else's kids and their business. While parents didn't discipline one another's kids, I do remember being walked home by a few mothers so my mother could be told what I'd done. A whole time when we were all "safe" and didn't have to be watched over every second that we were outside. A neighborhood where you had to be home by dark and the first mother to call their kids home meant everyone else had may as well start for home because it wouldn't be but a minute until your own mother was calling. And, some of us got in trouble if we had to be called.

Now, as an adult, I often find myself looking for "safe". That place I can run full, head-on into and know that I won't have to do anything unpleasant. I usually think of my sewing room as my safe place where I can retreat and do whatever I need, be it cry or laugh or just sit and stare into the dark. But, lately, I've been trying to find "safe" within myself. Something inside me that I can take with me wherever I am. This must be part of getting older. I'm no longer the warrior threat to the universe that I was when I was in college. You know that invincible feeling of being in control of everything. Now it's much more important to hide than to fight. I've found many ways, some safer than others. But, I still look for ways to get to "safe" and I guess I always will.

In case you hadn't noticed, it's Way Back Wednesday. Take care and have a great one. I'm still working my little fingers to the bone. Take the N-E-Y out of New York and what do you have left? Lane


Vesuviusmama said...

Beautiful post, Lane. I'm sure my hindsight is rose-tinted, but gosh, I loved being a kid. I knew then what a great gig it was. I keep trying to reinforce to my kids that they need to enjoy this time. It's great having them around so I can keep reliving the abandon with which I did everything when I was young. And certainly, my willingness to be so free from inhibitions came from feeling so "safe." (well, and a good dollop of ignorance, too)

Piece by Piece said...

I remember the games and things I did as a child. We would go out in the morning, come home for lunch, and out again until dinner. We did not have to worry about "strangers", at least not in the small village that I lived in. It was a "safe" time and place to live. In the late 40's and early 50's (gosh, I'm dating myself) the UK was just getting over the war years, we had few toys, we made our own fun,and looking back a happier childhood than many of the children in this day and age.

Becky said...

I look forward to seeing that you have posted. When you roll up on my blogger dashboard I always get a smile. Wonderful story!!! Love ya!

Quilting in My Pyjamas said...

I wonder if the children of this generation will be able to talk about such beautiful memories when they're recounting their past? I feel they won't and that's really sad. There isnt much to recount about using a computer and playing with a Nintendo.

Wow - We had it so good as kids!

Loved reading Way Back Wednesday as Usual.

lw said...

My friends and I would make lunches and go out early to the park to play and then to the library to get books. We'd make it home in time to set the table. God bless my mom, whoever showed up with us at dinner got a plate set, too. I remember rushing through the dishes in the summer so I could get out and join whatever games were going on before the sun set (baseball with a plastic bat and rubber ball, tag, dodgeball...) Then we told ghost stories under the street lights until our mothers called us in.

Elizabeth said...

I'd love to go back to those days -- I remember it just the way you describe. And I can relate 100% to needing a safe place just as much now as I did as a kid playing with the neighbor kids. Lovely Way Back Wednesday.

Nancy said...

Oh Lane, your writing is so lovely. You really should be writing books. What an inspiration you are. Safe for my is my dear friend Carol. She now lives in Florida and I am in PA. I hate the heat and she hates the cold, and I often wonder if we will ever sit in the same room again for our conversations. We have been best friends since 7th grade (1958-9) and were maid/matron of honor in the first wedding for the other, and then stood by each other for the failure of those dreams. I went to a very small school and actually have some friends who have been such since K or at least 1st grade. Only rarely these days do I meet someone who is that kind of friend. So many people don't seem to want to find the time to nurture friendships that last. I find better friends through my yahoo groups and through blogs. If you have that safe place, keep it and nurture it amd rejoice in it.