Making Memories

July 26, 2011
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As we begin to slip out of adolescence, we gain qualities that help us survive a cold and unexpected world. Among these attributes include intelligence, perseverance, ambition, patience, creativity, and above all, integrity. However there is one aspect of a child’s mind that I believe everyone sheds upon growing up: imagination.

I recall the countless yet finite summers of my early childhood which were chiefly spent with the same friends. At the start of every summer, we would be nearly overwhelmed with the excitement generated by so many toys and electronics. We would spend hours on end playing video games, trading cards and splashing in the community pool. But the thrill produced by these time receptacles would begin to wane as well as our summer.

It was like clockwork; the middle of August would loom and we would be bored. We couldn’t look forward to school, though. It was such a drag. The neighborhood kids and I began to leave the air-conditioned vessels that were our houses and engage the searing, arid August air that almost any New Jersey resident could relate to. We would make hours of fun out of climbing trees, building forts out of wood, playing capture the flag, and inventing games on a trampoline that to this day seem like so much fun. But come five o’clock, something heart-stopping would happen. A small, white, cubic truck would drive through the neighborhoods selling water that had been slightly frozen, pumped full of sugar and artificial flavors, and served to us in cheap paper cups; each flavor sold for its own immense markup.

The realistic description of such an event sounds anything but attractive and exciting. However, young children have this magical ability to turn almost any situation into an inspiring adventure. You see, the ice cream truck would not drive down our street; we could only hear the midi rendition of famous ragtime piece, “The Entertainer” playing from the truck’s obnoxiously overpowering horn a few blocks away. We would drop whatever we were doing. It was time to chase the ice cream truck in order to experience the satisfaction that was not so much the frozen, sugary treats; but the satisfaction sired by rush of catching the ice cream truck using nothing but scooters, bicycles, skateboards and inline skates along with an unforgettable friendship so evident among our juvenile hearts.

“Ice cream!” one of us would shout as if the others had not heard the truck. Chasing this white box moving at ten miles-per-hour on our rubber wheels became everyone’s objective. Our tired legs and sweaty faces begged us to stop as we raced after this truck following nothing but a crescendoing sound on such a sweltering afternoon. At this point, the combined ambience produced by our panting voices, our feet stomping against the ground, and the wheels spinning beneath our tiny bodies on the steamy pavement may have exceeded that of the ice cream truck.

After what seemed like miles, but was only probably a few small streets, we would start to see the ice cream truck in the distance as it unintentionally fled from us. As we drew in closer and began to wave and yell profusely the driver would finally sight us in his rearview mirror, and stop for us. Mission accomplished. During my childhood, my favorite ice flavor was rainbow: the perfect mixture of every flavor accompanied by all of my favorite colors in one cup. As I continued to grow, my flavor of choice turned into the same old, cliché green apple.
It’s amazing how after about ten short years, the ability to make our own fun and be easily amused deteriorates as we begin to prepare ourselves for adulthood. Instead of constantly scolding, forcing and attempting to teach our future children, maybe we can periodically stop to take a breath and learn from them. Maybe we can step back from harsh reality and back into frivolous imagination every now and then. Time may steal our innocence, but imagination can produce a kind of bliss that even the most educated of minds should be able to experience as they continue to mature.

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