“You need to clean your room, honey,” my grandmother says in her soft but commanding voice, and I know that doesn’t mean just shoving everything scattered on the floor into the closet. Why put everything away only to be bothered with pulling it all out tomorrow when I’m ready to play with it again? My mom’s mother lives with us, maintaining the household and making it possible for both of my parents to work. She knows how to hug and spank with equal skill.

I’d rather be walking out the back door, across the brick patio to the exterior two-bay garage to find my red bicycle waiting for me like a faithful companion. That bike takes me to the convenience store five blocks away to buy bubble gum. It takes me to my cousin’s house less than a mile away to play outside or curl up inside reading comic books. My bike has had many reincarnations: firetruck, racecar, motorcycle, roller coaster, spaceship.

I ride down the street, past houses of people my parents know casually but whom I only recognize as neighbors in cars and front yards. I would be shocked to learn, years later, that some of them drink alcohol, a substance of sin never permitted to cross the threshold of our baptized home. I cannot fathom that the housewife I never see next door beats her husband, and his shouts we hear from time to time are most likely cries of anguish, pain, despair.

My bike and I are unaware of nearby marriages crumbling, family financial crises, chronic illness, depression, or the fear of impending death. It’s inconceivable that some people on our street never go to church. Perhaps there are even parents who don’t pay attention to their children’s cluttered rooms. We are saved from the unimagined horrors that are carefully concealed behind neatly trimmed shrubs and front doors always closed.

A Little Less Anonymity

When I started this blog back in April, I had some misguided notion that I should keep my identity hidden, primarily because I thought that some of the future content would be personal or sensitive, and I feared offending my family, friends, and associates.  What I have come to discover is just how difficult it is to write about my own experiences and opinions while remaining completely anonymous.  There are significant stories and memories that I have had to avoid to stay in hiding.  No more I tell you!

I still prefer not posting my personal information in my profile; however, the stories I tell will definitely reveal my identity to people whom I have encountered over the last few decades.  In so doing, I am accepting a few restrictions: some stories will be better left untold, and I will have to be a bit sensitive and careful in the memories I do elect to share.  Yes, I admit that all of this sounds a tad melodramatic and narcissistic — my arrogance in thinking that this blog will reach such a wide audience that even friends and acquaintances will someday be following my posts.   Even so, getting a little more personal with the details will make for a better journal and, I hope, more engaging narratives.