I had a fun and mostly carefree childhood. I always had the good fortune of having great friends no matter where we lived. My friend Darlene when I stayed with my grandparents, Cynthia & my beloved Scotty at our first house in SJC and then Michelle, Asha, John and many more off of Ortega Highway. And when I wasn't playing with friends and came to work with my Mom, SJC was a much safer place. I could walk to the library alone and spend hours reading. I could walk down to the candy store this little old lady ran and get some cheap treats. Go to the butcher shop for the worlds best beef jerky. I knew the owners of every business around the mission in San Juan and could spend hours looking over the cat merchandise, beads, or doll house miniatures.
Whenever I stayed at my Grandma's house in Garden Grove, Darlene & I could not get enough of playing with the dolls from my Grandma's doll collection that she would let us play with or playing with the whole Strawberry Shortcake doll collection. Remember those dolls? They all smelled so good. Even the mean Purple Pie Man!
Scotty was my absolute best friend in the whole world in our little duplex in SJC off of Calle Villa Clara. Oh man! My first day of school getting on the bus and slipping with my stupid patent leather shoes and splitting my chin open. Scotty was so sad to have to ride the bus all alone while watching his mom carry me back home to take me to the hospital for stitches. Scotty went to the circus with me for my birthday. We rode our bikes all around the neighborhood playing cops & robbers because I had my amazing CHiPs bike. No stupid banana seat girls bike for me!!! And whenever something needed to be fixed on my bike, we could knock on Mr. Blum's door and he would gladly patch a tire or pump up a flat, or fix a chain that had de-railed. And when I felt like being a girl, I played with Cynthia who was very into collecting those plastic horses and held little club meetings in her garage. I also played with my big brother Jeff and his naughty friend Jason Bicknell. We had all the action figures from the Marvel and DC Comics and hot wheels cars. The Trans Am from Smokey & the Bandit being a favorite! We played ding dong ditch, but the neighbors didn't mind (except for one neighbor we all secretly thought was a witch) because they knew it was just us kids having fun. We would stretch out our garden hoses and have hose fights.
Moving off of Ortega Highway in SJC was at first tragic for me. How could I leave Scotty?!?!? But I made friends with Michelle Pettit and her brother John right off the bat. We were in Mrs. Case's 3rd grade class together and inseperable. I spent so many nights at sleep overs at her house. Her older cousin Pam gave us her old training bras and we thought we were so cool. MTV was born and Michelle's family had cable!!! So we pretended to be the Go Go's or Cindy Lauper and listened to the old AM station the Mighty 690! We ran all over the place in our neighborhood. Playing in the creekbeds catching frogs & turtles, swinging on the old tire swing over the creek, riding our bikes, roller skating, hanging out at Tuesday's Horse Stables, stealing pomegranates from our neighbors tree, playing with Barbies, occasionally washing cars to make a little money.
Then...moving from SJC to El Toro in 5th grade and having to leave my dog Shadow behind. But again I lucked out by meeting Kalei and Dawn my first day at Santiago. Swim team at the club, the freedom to ride my bike to the club to swim every day it was warm enough to go.
Oh to experience that freedom of being able to run around barefoot, whole long warm summers to be gone all day and get home when the street lights came on. Slumber parties, karaoke using brooms for guitars and overturned trash cans and wooden spoons to play drums. Hours spent laughing, playing, using our imaginations and having a ball.
Now plenty of not so fun things were going on around me as a kid, but my parents did such a good job of sheltering or protecting me from those things. We definitely were always tight on money, my Mom was ill with MS, my sister was a runaway, my brother could definitely be a big jerk, etc. But I can look back and the wonderful fun and carefree times dominate my memories and never fail to bring a smile to my face.