Lately, I’ve been keeping a list of all of my favorite things. The idea grew out of an assignment I give my journey clients on keeping an attitude of gratitude alive in your daily life. Since I have never given an assignment that I haven’t done myself, obviously I want to live the best life possible too, I sat down with my phone and made a new folder, titling it “My Favorite Things”.
Typically I’m old school, opting for a pad of paper and a pen instead of a file on my phone, but I wanted this particular file to be easy to find and at my fingertips at any time that I think of one of my favorite things or I am thrown into a fit of self-pity. Interestingly, since I’ve been keeping this list, I find myself more often coming up with new and simple things. I try to add at least five-ten favorite things a day, but they seem to pop into my head at the most random times. Over the next year I plan to share these with you as well, but I wanted to start off with one of my all time favorite, favorite things.
Indiana Summer Nights!
I have the implicit luxury of having moved to Indiana when I was 4 years old, therefore making me a Hoosier by all meanings of the word. It’s hard to explain what it’s like growing up in Indiana unless you grew up in Indiana, probably the same as everywhere else. But I think it’s much like growing up in areas of Oklahoma, North Dakota, Illinois and Ohio. Not much really happens in Indiana. And yet, in between the corn rows that line the country roads and the the moonlit farms that light the highway going south from Chicago to Louisville, there is a sense of mystery and intrigue that lies between Indiana’s three or four main cities. That is the Indiana where I grew up.
Our summers were much like the summers of Scout, Jem and Dill in To Kill a Mockingbird. We played outside till our mother’s called us in under full moons. We’d eat ice cream cones and walk home with our hands sticky and wet, our shorts and shoes dirty from having played in the woods all day long. We created stories about our neighbors and there was always a neighborhood mystery to be solved before the summer’s end.
At night, after I bathed and put on my shorty, matching pajamas, I’d close my eyes, my head snuggled up against my percale sheets passed down from my grandmother, and listen to old time radio tapes like The Shadow and Fibber McGee and Molly. My mother didn’t believe in air conditioning so sweat glistened my face and arms and I dreamed of weekends with my father in his cool apartment, but settled with a strong gust of wind coming through my window, mixed with the smell of a late night thunderstorm or June bugs rattling in the window screen.
I can still remember my mother, sitting in her room, the sound of Johnny Carson whistling down the hall towards me while ice clinked the side of her glass, mixing a late night gin and tonic. People smoked cigarettes inside their houses in those days and the smell of her hourly cigarette comforted me somehow. Every once in awhile she would walk downstairs, my dog Benji following quickly behind her and I could hear her putting him on his leash and walking him outside. Sometimes I could even hear her talking to neighbors, laughing or commenting on the nice evenings.
There is nothing like the smell of fresh grass and rainstorms and the sound of wind chimes and laughter in screened porches illuminated by the light of a full moon that reminds me more of my summers as a boy in Indiana. Sometimes I would have a friend spend the night and we would whisper to each other in sleeping bags side by side on the floor or from top and bottom bunks, making plans for the day ahead when we would catch craw dads in the creek or play hockey or baseball in our cul de sac. I can’t imagine the stress of nothing more than deciding whether or not to go to pool with your friends or to follow the creek further than you’ve ever gone before. Those, truly, were the days.
Today, I find myself many nights sitting on my front porch, watching television shows and movies on Netflix on my iPad. I smoke cigarettes and drink lemonade or coffee as the wind blows around me, the trees dancing their own special salsa to summer’s end, I am reminded of those days. I miss them. They were my youth. They were some of my most favorites times, those hours between 11 and 3 when I would stay awake and listen to the Indiana summer night become alive all around me. If only for one my night in my old bed, my mom laughing in the other room as Chevy Chase tells a joke to Johnny and a cool breeze rippling across my legs.