I don't share my childhood with very many people. It's not because I am ashamed or because I don't have stories, because I do. It is because I can't figure it out. I can't figure out how I got from there to here in one piece. Let me explain.
Most of my childhood memories can be separated into two parts. "Rich" days and poor days.
Poor days were spent in our smallish house in Austin, Texas entertaining ourselves because my dad had decided to start another company and so we were living off cream of wheat and beans. We pitched tents in our back yard instead of staying in hotels, froze orange juice to make popsicles, and played in the sprinklers at the elementary school instead of getting pool passes. A family outing meant going to Goodwill and playing a version of the grocery game where everyone gets 3 dollars to find the coolest treasure and at the end the cash register attendant chooses a winner. Any money we could spare would be used toward road trips where my mom would come into our room and say "You guys want to go to San Diego tomorrow?" We would say, "Sure," and continue playing with our homemade toys. We'd drive to San Diego to visit my grandma and on the way make up games like "see how many people can wave to us" and "whoever is the most quiet gets a piece of candy" (I always won that one because I will do ANYTHING for candy.)
The other days are the "rich" days. These were the off years when my dad would be working for a software company, you know, "The Man." In these years, I got a barbie jeep, I had baby sitters, I went to Chuck-ee Cheese, I shopped at the Limited Too, we went to Hawaii, and we moved to the Pepper Rock house. The rich days weren't as much fun because we weren't forced to make up games or entertain ourselves. We started going to Target instead of garage sales and getting clothes for school instead of hand-me-downs. (Don't get me started on hand-me-downs. I have one older siblings and he's a boy so needless to say I dressed like a boy for the formidable years of my life.)
This whole random memory was prompted by a conversation with my mom. I always give my mom a hard time because it seemed like the minute Rodney and I moved out, everything in the Dial home changed. I don't say the 4 younger siblings are spoiled but only because it makes my mom mad.
My mom is buying a new car. Not just a car, a Cadillac. Escalade. She looked at one today that was perfect color, perfect mileage, good price, and right amount of seats.
"The only problem is that there is no DVD player."
"Mom, why is that a problem?"
"Well we are going to California this month and the boys will be upset if they aren't able to watch movies to entertain them."
"Mother, we drove to California every summer growing up and we didn't even think to be able to watch movies. I think they'll manage."
Luckily my brothers are the greatest things that ever happened to this world otherwise I'd smack them upside the head. It will be interesting to see if they are any different than Rodney and I who were raised under very different circumstances. Thinking about the way I was brought up makes me grateful. I know those days added a lot to my character. Right, I spend money like it's nobody's business, but I know that deep down there is a part of me that enjoyed not having, and you never know when that will come in handy.