How telling is it that the childhood memories that come to mind are quiet, solitary moments?
I'm trying not to over-think the questions. In striving for honesty, I feel that going with the first thing that comes to mind is necessary. It was kind of startling to realize how much I enjoyed being alone, particularly engaging in flights of fancy or creative pursuits.
The first memory to comes to mind was my solitary walking along the beach. I was probably 10, 11 or 12... all those ages and more. My family vacationed each summer for two weeks on Cape Cod, and my personal bliss was to head to the beach at the end of the day, just before sunset, to walk the beach and sit on the dunes, to watch the sky turn incredible colors while the warm, gentle surf rolled over my feet and lapped at my ankles. To sit quietly on a dune on the near-deserted beach, and wiggle my toes into the still warm sand. To seek treasures from the ocean hiding in fresh clumps of seaweed. To think amazing thoughts, dream amazing dreams, ponder what a tiny speck I was (am) in the Universe, yet feeling so connected with all that is in those moments, alone, on the beach, by the sea, as the sun set. I could weep with the yearning I feel now to be near the sea, and here I am in landlocked Illinois. Some day. Some day.
The second memory to surface was the composition of my first poem. I was not actually all alone. I was with my friend David McCann, and we were at his house. I was six years old. I was already a reader, and the teacher had read poems that day in school. I was in first grade. The poems were about spring. And I decided I wanted to write my own poem. I made David listen to me recite each line before I wrote it down. I asked him for help with rhyming words, and ultimately dismissed all of his and came up with my own. (David was such a good sport!) It was good, and I was ecstatic with my creation! Today I still remember every word:
A flower is a pretty thing.
It comes out in the Spring.
And when it comes out,
It always spreads about.
A flower smells so good.
I like to wear it in my hood.
My friend and I both say
A flower spends the day
Brilliant, right? Frankly, 50-year-old Jeanne is still pretty impressed with 6-year-old Jeanne's poetry!
The other memories that stand out from childhood are making art (I love drawing and painting), writing stories and my imaginary friends. I had the most awesome imaginary friends! I knew they were imaginary, but I also knew that just because they were imaginary, that didn't mean they didn't exist. Somewhere. Somehow. Because I believed in the power of personal creation. I don't know what philosophical and spiritual streams I'd tapped into as a child, but I did a lot of profound thinking and imagining along lines for which I had no label until I was older and more learned. Quantum physics, reincarnation, past life recall, mind over matter, creating our physical universe, karma, you get back what you put out, you make your own reality.
I never had a lot of friends as a kid. I really was a bit of a loner. I remember sometimes feeling a little sad or wishing I was included in some specific activity, but for the most part, I was perfectly happy... sometimes supremely blissed out... being with just me.
Today, I still enjoy my own company. It's a good thing I am married to a man who also enjoys his own company, because he gets it! In many ways, I am personally living what I love. Professionally... that's a whole 'nother story to be explored on another day.