When I was a kid, my family spent most summer weekends on the South Carolina coast. Of course, I remember the hazy way the days passed, fading into one another and making up the stuff of my childhood. I remember sandy peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, the way the grains of sand crunched between my teeth and how much I hated it. I remember going to the movie theater in town on rainy days and looking for seashells along the shore and my yellow one-piece swimsuit with a ruffled waist (A peplum at age four! Golly, so ahead of the trend). The more traumatic moments stand out, too: The time the minivan ran over a squirrel; I pressed my nose to the rear windshield, and my heart was broken, but I did not cry. I was far too aware of it, the not crying. The other girls wailed, and I wondered what was wrong with me, why tears wouldn’t come. (Later, I would wonder if I would be able to cry at funerals as I knew I ought to. Of course, I always did.) Once, running to catch up with my brother, I slipped on the gravel sidewalk and cut my knee. I remember sitting in the house in the strange quiet of the afternoon, wondering how a place usually so lively could feel so empty. The blood looked like grape jam and I don’t think I’ll ever forget it. One August afternoon, we cut short a bike ride—the sky was looming black and cloudy ahead. My dad decided to keep going. Evey crash of lightning sent a feeling of dread up my spine. My nose pressed to glass once again as I watched him grow smaller through the car’s rear windshield, and when we got home, I kept watching through the window. An overwhelming sense of relief washed over me when I saw him pull up to the house.
A few weeks ago, the sky was ominous once again and I was with my parents in Colorado, setting out on a hike. We could hear the occasional roll of thunder and eventually my mom decided to turn back. My dad asked if I wanted to keep going, and for once I wasn’t scared. I didn’t worry, I trusted we would be okay. It all came rushing back, being little and afraid and nervous. My childhood by the South Carolina shore. It was silly, but I wished I was scared; wished I wanted to turn back the way I know I would have if I were still six years old, but I guess somewhere along the way I learned to push fear aside and keep going.