Today I’m participating in an old school Blog Hop, organized by my friend Nancy over at Midlife Mixtape. (Thanks for inviting me, Nancy!) The theme, as you may have guessed by reading my post title, is “Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time.”
Way (way) back in the summer of 1979, my family was preparing to move away from the Chicago area for the very first time. My dad was hired to manage a Holiday Inn outside of Ft. Worth, Texas. I was very upset about the move, specifically because I was scared to leave the the home I knew and loved and my friends and everything that was familiar, and generally because enjoying change has never been my thing.
I don’t remember much about that summer; in fact, just three events from that season have stuck with me in the nearly thirty-seven years that have gone by:
1. I went away to summer camp at OSRUI, a camp for young Reform Jews, after winning a two-week scholarship from my temple by writing an essay about Hanukkah. (The year prior I had lost the scholarship by writing about bacon, so the 1979 win was huge.)
2. My parents and sister moved to Texas while I was at camp and so I stayed with my aunt and uncle for a few days before I eventually rejoined my family in the Lone Star State.
3. The thing that happened right before camp, which you’ll read about right now.
At my young age, I didn’t have many responsibilities to fulfill as we prepared to move to a whole other state. (Neither did my sister, who was five.) I remember my mom was very busy going through household items, deciding what to keep and what to get rid of, planning a garage sale, and packing up the things that she wanted to take care of by herself before the professional movers arrived. Trying to prepare a household for a move with two young kids while your husband is already working in another state isn’t easy. It’s the opposite of easy. As a ten-year-old I had no idea and honestly, like most kids who had been on earth for just one decade, didn’t even consider that my mom could have been stressed beyond belief.
It’s for that very reason–the I-am-the-center-of-my-universe attitude that is very common in tweens–that I got into terrible trouble one day. I got a thought into my head and executed it, without considering the consequences.
You see, I was on a mission.
I had been hearing a lot of a certain song on the radio and on television, and I decided that I needed the record.
The song? The disco classic and one-hit-wonder, “Makin’ It” by David Naughton. Yes, you read that correctly. At the time, it was my anthem.
I’ve got the chance, I’m takin’ it
No more, no more fakin’ it
This time in life, I’m makin’ it (ooo)
Makin’ it, makin’ it
The stores in old-style plaza shopping centers had entrances that were outside and not under a roof. Often there would be awnings and canopies along the walkways, but nothing was closed in with actual walls except the stores themselves. Like malls of today these shopping centers were anchored by department stores but instead of today’s crazy, colorful mall boutiques in overlapping categories that cater to every walk of life, those shopping centers had one each of basic shops that sold basic things like jewelry, shoes, hardware, liquor…and records.
My shopping center, Park Forest Plaza, was a ten or fifteen minute walk from my house. I knew exactly how to get there because we took that walk on a fairly regular basis.
It was just a couple of days before I was leaving for camp, as I recall, that I developed a one-track mind about going to pick up that 45 RPM record. It was going to cost me less than a dollar and I didn’t think I could live much longer without it. Looking back, I’m certain that deep down I believed the blow of my moving away would be softened by the acquisition.
One day I grabbed my coin purse and went to find my mom, who was busily packing.
“Can I go for a walk?” I asked.
She asked where I was going and I told her, “Just for a walk.”
After she absentmindedly gave me the okay, I took off feeling like I was living every single movie scene that’s ever portrayed a high school graduating class busting out the front doors on the last day of school.
I. WAS. FREE.
I carefully crossed Western Avenue, a major thoroughfare that was busy all the time no matter what the hour, and found myself at the shopping center. I was high on freedom and decided that before I went to the record store I should definitely stop at the department store candy counter for a small bag of Swedish Fish. Savoring a couple of those colorful candies on a bench outside the record store, it occurred to me that I might be enjoying the best day of my life.
Feeling like a boss, I strolled into the record store and made my purchase, and then walked home about ten feet above the sidewalk.
Upon casually entering my front door, my bubble was not just burst; it was decimated. Apparently I had been gone for a really long time, and apparently my mom was not pleased that I left the neighborhood without getting permission. In all fairness, at the time I rationalized that had I told her all of the details about where I was going, she would have said no. That’s why I only told her half the story.
I can still see her sitting on the floor in the middle of piles of stuff and boxes, yelling at me as I clutched my Swedish Fish and the bag from the record store. She had been out of her mind with worry.
“WHAT WAS IT THAT WAS SO IMPORTANT??” she screamed.
Gingerly I pulled the record out of the bag and showed it to her. It had no effect on her mood, of course.
She sent me to my room, and I felt terrible…but not so terrible that I didn’t enjoy the heck out of that record if I’m being completely honest.
Of course, now that I’m an adult and a mother myself I can see this memory from my mom’s perspective and I have a lot of remorse for what I did to her that day, when she was preparing–at the age of thirty-five, to move away from the Chicago area for the very first time. I’m certain, knowing what I know now about how similar our personalities are, that she was scared to leave the the home she knew and loved and her friends and everything that was familiar. Also? Enjoying change has never been her thing, either.
So I get it now.
And while it seemed like a good idea at the time, it really wasn’t.
But it makes a great story, don’t you think?
Please go visit the other blog hoppers and read about what they thought was a good idea at the time. I’ll be reading every single one!
Hahaha! That is FANTASTIC.
Thank you! 🙂
Oh, boy. I can see this from both your mom’s and your 10-year-old perspective. I giggled at you showing her the record because THAT is what had you gone so long? Ha. (My mother would have probably taken it from me and not let me listen, as punishment.)
Agree, and actually she might have taken it away; I actually can’t remember either way! LOL
I’m sure if she didn’t take it away, it was because she was out of her mind with stress and just needed me out of her sight. 🙂
THis is why I love old fashioned blog hops. THE STORIES and the way we get to know our friends. It’s so important and I LOVED seeing L’il Melisa in my head blowing the town with Swedish fish and bad music. Sorry, I meant, music. (I LOVED this, lady)
Thank you! And thanks for the correction. It may not be the best song in history (ok it’s not, by FAR), but it’s not bad!
She should have taken your record!
Time and being mothers ourselves now certainly does give perspective, doesn’t it?
She might have, for a little while! It’s weird that I wouldn’t remember either way, but I just don’t.
And yes, it’s nice to see things both ways!
Okay, this story terrifies me because you mean to tell me that some day – likely in the next 2 years – my kids will refuse to give me all the details and will probably take off on a “walk” or a “bike ride,” and I won’t have any idea where they are???
…feeling like a boss…. LOLOLOL
Yep, that’s pretty much what I’m saying. Heh.
Buckle up! 🙂
Thank you for bringing “Makin’ It” back to the forefront of my memory. Whoa whoa whoa. Makin’ It! It is amazing to think that your mother was unable to GPS track you, or text you… she just had to wait for you to walk back in. Maybe our mothers didn’t have it so easy.
Yeah I’m thinking our generation is pretty “spoiled”, err lucky, as far as moms go!
Liz @ ewmcguire
This story cracked me up and terrified me all at once. Also…an essay about bacon for Hebrew camp?? Hahaha!
Thank you! And yes. Um, we weren’t the most observant Jews. LOLOLOL
I loved that damn song, too.
And Swedish Fish.
1979 was rad.
It really, really was! 🙂
Nancy Davis Kho
For some reason the other day I thought about the time our eldest was 3 and I asked her to put something in the mailbox for me…meaning the mailbox on our front porch, three steps away from the front door. SHE thought I meant the blue USPS mailbox at the end of the street and, being a plucky gal, set off down the porch steps, then the front walk, then onto the city sidewalk to the end of the street four houses away. At the exact moment she realized she was WELL beyond her comfort zone I was looking around thinking “WTH? Didn’t she come back in yet?”
We met, both of us sobbing, on the sidewalk in front of my nextdoor neighbor’s house. Neither childhood nor parenting is for pussies, man.
Well said. 🙂
A great story
That WAS a great story!
ps – change is overrated. Okay, maybe not, but still.
I really wish I was better at Change. Maybe someday. (But probably not.)
The fact that she let you take your record to your room, after you pulled it out of her bag to show her, I think maybe she recognized that independent spirit, too. Love this story and that your love of Swedish fish runs deep 🙂 Yay for blog hops!
After you pulled the record out of “your” bag, I mean, because leaving a comment (before my second cup of coffee) seemed like a good idea, at the time, yo!
Yay for blog hops indeed. That reminds me, I should pick up some Swedish fish today.