When I was eight everything was possible. I thought I could run faster, and I could. I thought there would never be a time when I wouldn’t try things and that time has come. I believed that all people are good and I have had occasion to wonder and even question that fact. I played with friends and thought those close to me then would be close to me forever. I know where only a few of those folks are today and I smile even thinking of them now. We were innocent. We were young. We were carefree. We loved, laughed outloud. ate ice cream when we wanted. drank Icees when we wanted, slept in during In the summer we watched cartoons early Saturday mornings, went to the fair every year, flirted with boys because it was fun, made wishes, believed dreams came true, said our prayers and all before bathtime and lights out. We played together and didn’t care who lived on which side of the tracks. We held hands during recess and skipped. We still played dress up with our mom’s clothes and shoes and makeup when they weren’t looking and pretended we knew what it would be like to be grown up. I had no clue.

I loved us and all the lessons we taught each other. Riding on your best friends handle bars down a steep hill should be avoided at all costs. The feeling of drowning is no fun and that feeling that you’ll never breathe again is something you put our of your head. That feeling returns when you’re a teenager and someone breaks you heart–you remember how it feels to be drowning all over again. We shared, really because we liked to share. The joy of giving what I had to my best friend and seeing her face–money can’t buy that. It’s priceless, really. We jumped off of things and didn’t think at the the time we’d get hurt, until an ankle sprain. I learned how long it takes to heal. Later I learned it again and again–healing seems to takes forever. We can spend our whole lives healing from something, even if we’ve made peace with the hurt. Some prayers don’t get answered, but I believe all prayers are heard. Fear is overridden by desire and joy is found in the smallest places.

I caught every living thing in my back yard and I treasured the world around me. The trees were my playrooms and my bike could take me anywhere. With coins in my pocket I’d head downtown to the library and get lost in a book that would take me to places I couldn’t pronounce, much less dream up. Next I’d ride to the drugstore for fudge ripple ice cream on a sugar cone and buy a Richie Rich comic book. Then I’d ride down past the cemetary to the creek and swim–that’s crazy huh. I’d catch tadpoles and fireflies. Then I’d head back home and play tag with my neightbors until it was dark. Finally and only at the last hour, I would go back inside for a quick bite, most of which I would sneak to the dog under the table. Then it was bath time. I made shampoo supported mohawks. After a quick bedtime story made up by my dad, I was off to sleep. I was still afraid of the dark at eight.. after a kiss goodnight, I’d check under the bed for the creatures and in the closet. I’d pull the curtains closed, hold a stuffed animal tightly. and head under the covers. I was right to be scared of things. There are things to be scared of. Some nights I was frozen–no trapped by fear, not most nights, but enough to remember. I’d whisper a few words under my breath and I was off to sleep. Now that I think of it, those creatures never surfaced. They were in my head, not in my room. Isn’t that the way it is? We have to be careful what we let have it’s way with our thoughts. Most nights the good prevailed. I dreamed when I was eight. Seldom did I remember my dreams, but I loved to dream about playing with dolphins somewhere exotic. Dream land was very different from my surroundings. That is still true today, but I still believe that anything is possible.

It’s all how you look at it. An eight year old sees with eyes that are still open and there are days when I long for that view. Even if I could go back and whisper some of the things I’ve learned and realized along the journey to that girl, she might laugh until she cried or she’d cry until she laughed. She wouldn’t, couldn’t believe me. She’d have to see it with her own eyes. That’s just what I have lived. Here’s to eight. Really in a word, it was great. Don’t ever stop being eight. Don’t forget to buy a snowcone this summer, bubble gum’s my favorite flavor and it turns your tongue blue–who doesn’t like that!

Max turns eight today… May 16, 2008 eat some birthday cake… 2 slices!

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