22831 SUNNYSIDE ST. CLAIR SHORES, MI.
This was one of my childhood addresses. Actually the only one I can remember. I can still see the large modern, bubble white numbers going down the front of the house. Boldly announcing its presence as if wonderful things were happening inside. Maybe my step-father had those dreams when he put the numbers up. He would end up heartbroken like the rest of us.
Now one would think with a name like Sunnyside, it would filled with less than bright days, joyous events and perfection. This was not the case. Most of my childhood was a series of upheavals , moving and moving from one place to another. My mother got married many times so in addition to the moves, there was a revolving door of "fathers" that would come and go. With sparse visits from my birth father as he embarked on his own multiple marriages.
Strange.... I recently met a woman from Michigan and her parents had been married multiple times as well.They were also the same generation as my parents. Of the late 1950's ushering out a sort of innocence and in a rebellion. We were the casualties.
I must say though..... even with much despair, there still lived many magical moments. As is the case with childhood. It is the duality of life. We cannot have the good without the bad it seems. Don't blame me. Have to talk to God about that one........
I lived here on Sunnyside from 1st grade through 5th grade. Ages 6 to about 11, if my math is correct. Although not perfect, this was the most idyllic time in my childhood before lies and deceit blew the illusion of this familial sand castle away.
It was the early 70's and orange was a powerful color that reigned supreme from interior design to the clothes we wore. Our house was filled with it. Along with plastic mirrored walls and plastic parsons tables everywhere. That was quite a long stretch for orange. I remember it lasting well into the 6th and 7th grade. Awful to wear unless you are a woman of color. Especially on me as I was as pasty as they came.
It is strange what you remember as a child. Some have no memories at all. Too painful, they block them out. Like a woman does with the pain of birthing her baby. A veil just silently and gently falls over the painful memories. Like the first snow signifying fall turning to winter. It is as white as a clean piece of paper. Silent. Dense in its colorlessness. Yet ripe with potential of truth to emerge. Or delusional stories born of a deep seated denial. What once helped them to survive, now prevents them to thrive.
Never wanting to become the queen of denial , I continue my daily work of pulling the pieces of me back together and attempting a sort of integration necessary after the disintegration of my particular childhood. Part of my way is to remember.....to re-member with my little self. Sherri. Spelled S-H-E-R-R-I. I was instructed very clear of this specific spelling by my rarely present father in a bowling alley once as my brothers and I put own names on the board above our heads. It made me feel special. The crumbs of knowing he and my mother had actually discussed the how of my name being spelled. Little, yes, but I took what I could get.
This morning on Facebook I read a post from a girl I knew during this period of time. She reminded me she had the figure 8 pool. And that she too is a loud Michigan girl. I long to connect with her and remember her better. I am pretty sure I do. Hard to forget those coveted families that could actually afford a pool. I also believe she and I had some great times listening to Elton John at his finest. Bennie and the jjjjjeeettssss!!!!
As an actress one must explore the darker parts of one's personality. DKL taught me that well. Not to be afraid to shine a light into the dark recesses of my mind, my memories, and so I have. If you are at all close to me, you will be subjected to a similar scrutiny. I apologize in advance. I was always exploring this way as a child and the perfect career found me to continue this exploration. I believe as I have quoted too many times to count.
An unexamined life is not worth living.
Some of what I have found in getting my masters doing this deep, personal and worthy excavating my old treasures, has been my own personal stuff from this life. Some is literally thousands of years old passed through a lineage that for all intents and purposes I really know nothing about. Not on a conscience level anyway. I trust what I need to know will be revealed.
I watched a documentary yesterday about an ancient cave that had recently been discovered. With were these beautiful, pristine images drawn on its walls. So much sparkly crystallization everywhere. When people crystallize in their dead beliefs it is not nearly as beautiful. There were many animal bones, no human ones. It was clear the humans did not live here but came to do art. There was also foot prints of mainly animals.
One in particular stuck in my mind. It was that of an 8 year old boys footprint with a wolfs print next to it. It begged the question........ Did the wolf follow the boy into the cave as prey? Did the two walk side by side as friends? Or was one print made at one point in time and the other at a later date?
I choose to believe they walked side by side as friends like in the book, The Old Turtle. A favorite book that I used to read to Myles as a child. I need a new one to share with my Christian as well. Wonderful book. It speaks of a time when all living creatures spoke the same language.
My path is not to masturbate with the pain of the past. It is to no longer deny it. To discover, uncover and recover. To pull all of me back together and not live life as a fragmented, sad and self-medicating person.My medication of choice is wine. It could be worse. Where to some this type of work is scary, to me this is sacred work that sets me free. I no longer which to be held emotionally hostage by my past. This is what works for me. My truth.
I was granted a beautiful memory during my morning prayers a few days ago. A piece of me I had forgotten. Another piece of the puzzle. I remembered when it would rain on Sunnyside. I have always loved the rain. Still do. As a child it always signaled to me its time to get on some warm clothes and go play!!!!! I would try to flood the streets by putting newspaper all over the drains in the street. Praying for the entire width of the street to become a rushing river , not only on the sides of the slightly curved road.
I would jump in a boat, ride the river and go to where the wild things are.......
As this memory filled me up, I sat and prayed. It poured outside almost violently but I could feel little Sherri's excitement. I could feel the memories of being bundled up with the strings of the hood pulled tight to cover my crazy sensitive ears. And feel the rain gently sprinkling on my face. Free.... as a child .... without a stitch of make up........as a woman it mattered not how wet I got. Free of a care of what "they" might think. Dancing around. Jumping in and out of puddles.
As I write I cannot help but smile. A bittersweet smile. The wonderful memory........ Along with a sort of wonder as to where all that joy went. I sometimes now feel it difficult to really have fun. I seek to rediscover that joy, that pleasure. I know I am on my way to finding this joy again. I am firmly on my path. Thanks to God. And some very special people in my life.
It may not seem like much but it was a huge piece of myself to reclaim. To give this part of me voice. A voice that was shut down by fearful adults. They did the best they could, this I know. I blame less and less but my reintegration is essential to coming out of this self-imposed chrysalis state. I long to become a fully formed butterfly. Not the deformed one of the past. I say that with love and compassion for myself. I was deformed and misinformed. But it is a new day.
My step father on Sunnyside was a saint in my eyes. The best father I had. A very young man who took on an older woman and her 3 children. There were many good times with him. Kenny Moore. I will always have a special place for him in my heart. He was kind and good to me and my brothers. Showed up as our own blood father did not have the ability to. I love him always. More about him later.....
This is a sort of serial blog about Sunnyside. I will be a process of un-peeling layer upon layer. A needed purging for me. I will keep names out of this to protect some that choose to not explore these things as I do. They are allowed theirs and I mine. It is time.
I hope this may serve to help others to unlock the doors on their powerful and personal experiences as children and no longer keep them hidden away. Or less, to take them on an honest young person's journey in this complicated world during a time that was more innocent. And in a place 22831 Sunnyside, St. Clair Shores, Michigan that simple and innocent as well.
To be continued........