Thursday, September 07, 2006

The Point of No Return

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Lyric of the Day:

Offer up your best defense
This is the end of the innocence.

- Don Henley
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I was trying to remember the moment my innocence ended this morning. I don’t mean in the carnal sense, you sickos. I mean that point in time where a person’s mind and reflection shifts from dwelling exclusively on the musings of unjaded youth to those of more serious, grown up matters. A point of harsh no return.

My immediate thought was my first heartbreak. I was 13, he was a couple years older. He’d told me from the start that if his previous girlfriend would take him back, he would go back to her – but that he liked me and would like us to spend time together. I agreed to the arrangement and took it for what it could be. It still hurt when he went back to her, though. I thought my heart would never mend.

But that wasn’t really it. The year before was pretty rough. My brother, who had always been there, went away to college – and though we drove each other nuts I missed him a lot. I got my “little friend”, which is always earth shattering (sorry for TMI, my male readers). Before that a boy in my class had been killed in a fire. And before that my grandfather, my favorite person in the world, passed away. It was the first time I had to process the death of a person I loved on a cognitive level.

But that wasn’t it either. A year before that, John Lennon was murdered. I had thought everyone loved John Lennon. It was very difficult to wrap my head around that. Around that same time, my best friend was from a family which observed a very strict faith. It was a real experience, learning and trying to remember that she could not eat animal products or celebrate any holidays. Pretty heavy for a grade schooler.

The year before that a great pal of mine moved away. It was the first time I had to say goodbye to a daily figure in my life.

Even before that I remember a gruesome news story. My folks were very careful to protect us kids from traumatic topics. My first 5 or 6 years were during the Viet Nam War – I remember many things from those years but have no recollection of war images from the television or discussions. I’m sure my folks kept that stuff at bay while I was around the tv or the radio. I was not allowed to go to R-rated movies until I was officially old enough, and my parents didn’t have cable tv – so my exposure to the evils of current events was limited. But one day there was a story that rocked my city. A woman had murdered her 3 little girls, chopped them up and placed their parts in dumpsters all around town. I don’t know when that was, but I remember the oldest girl was my age. I also remember that while I could sort of read the article, I had trouble with the big words. I knew that killing existed, because it was important enough for God to make a commandment about it. But that was the first time I realized that people actually killed other people and it wasn’t all in Bible stories. It was also the first time the thought ever entered my head that a mommy would ever hurt her children.

I can still see the photograph, a family portrait, as clear as day. They were all wearing yellow. The youngest, still a baby, had platinum curls. They all looked so happy.

It’s a crazy world, isn’t it?

Do you remember the point in time when you first took on awareness of the world’s darker, more painful side? Was it a heart breaking? Was it the death of a president, actor or social figure? A divorce?

Do you even remember living in a mental state of complete innocence?

19 comments:

Mindless Dribbler said...

Yeah, I can still remember. My buddies (3 boys the same age who lived on the same road) always got together after school....whether it was matchbox cars or football, my mind never veered to the adult topics.

Nice post buddy :)

Rebecca said...

oooh, great post Clew.
First off - one of my favorite Don Henley songs. ;)

Yes, I do remember a state of complete innocence, believe it or not. ;)
But to remember the distinct moment when it was gone - no, I can't.
Mostly because I think you're right....it's a process. Little by little, it gets chipped away as your awareness to your surroundings is heightened.

I remember the first time my heart was broken by my best friend. I remember my first experience with death.
I remember the first time I realized my Daddy wasn't the strongest man around. I remember the first time I knew of a friend that was abused.
I remember the first time I encountered someone who was really vicious to me for no reason.

Honestly - I still lose pieces of my innocence today.
Because I think in order to truly have hope - you must still have a little innocence left inside of you.
What do you think?

Spin_Doc1 said...

After reading your post I am almost thankful that I can't remember a time of living in state of innocence, not quite but almost.

Ocean said...

yes mine was at age 12, Our house caught on fire. We almost lost our mother, she was in life or death condition for 6 months. Yet she made it though, And we enjoyed life with her for 22 more years after that.

Ocean said...

And Great post Clew. Nice read.

martie said...

Wow, great post, Clew! And no, I don't remember one specific point in time where I started thinking in adult terms and less like a child. I agree with you and Rebecca, it must be an ongoing process....I'm not sure I have totally evolved yet!!

Looking forward to the end of the month when I will see you again! XOXOXO

Itchy said...

I don't really remember any one event that made me lose my sense of innocence. My family was pretty open about things as I was growing up. I learned about sex in grade school. My mom would instruct my sister and I on how to escape a car if we wrecked and found ourselves in the river. So...I just don't remember ever being 100% "innocent." But I also don't feel 100% NOT innocent either...

chesneygirl said...

Woman, I can't even remember what I had for breakfast this morning!!!

The first thing that comes to mind was when I was in middle school around the 25th anniversary of JFK's assassination...there was alot of talk about it in the media and my history teacher did a big lesson about it....before then I had never known much about the subject and I became very obsessed with it for a week or so, I remember reading everything I could find about it and trying to comprehend it all.
Another thing that just popped into my brain as I typed this...was the explosion of the Challenger, I was 10. I remember feeling such sadness for that teacher's students and realizing how horrible it really was!

I think this is what you mean?
I still can't focus on anything today! ;)

The Editor said...

I enjoyed this post as I do all of your posts. I thought some about things that stuck in my head as a child. Too many to mention here...I go with just one-

I don't remember what grade I was in. A girl in my class was killed by a falling window. She came home to an empty house each day. She had forgotten her key this day in particular. One of the windows of her family's home was not locked. She raised it and tried to crawl in. The window came down on her neck and killed her.

I knew what death was but I had a hard time understanding why she wasn't with us anymore. She was my age. She was kid.

Well, I don't want to end my comment on that note. So- hope you have a cool weekend! :)

Rhonda said...

Geez, Clew. Your posts often just blow me away. The other-half and I were just talking about this and asking ourselves if we were just morose children, having some recognition that bad things and even death existed at a young age or if kids *do* have such awarenesses, even without personal traumas or exposure to the "darker" side of life.

For me, it was personal trauma leading me to realize the darker side. Sadly, I was very, very young.

Sam said...

It's funny that you mention John Lennon's death, because I think that was my moment. I remember laying in bed listening to the radio when it happened. I remember crying for a long time.
The next day I started writing poetry for the first time in my life.
I was 16.

Unacknowledged Genius said...

I feel like I've always been an adult.

naive-no-more said...

I left a comment here earlier today. Did you see it? It's gone now.

bigwhitehat said...

I was 24. It was when I was the heart breaker for the first time. It is very strange. My life until then was filled with other moments. But I had always been the good guy until then.

Sissy B. said...

I don't remember my childhood so I can't remember a time of complete innocence...I believe I must have been traumatized even in the womb.

McSwain said...

Nice post. I think I was kept my innocence until my late 20's, shortly before my first divorce. And I don't think it was a good thing that I kept it so long, because my lack of knowledge got me into a lot of trouble--I didn't know how to see the red flags.

Cheryl here, with a different name. I'm ba-a-ack.

Sissy B. said...

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:)

TC said...

what a great post. I think my first thought that bad things happen was when a friend of the family died. I loved him. I was completely heartbroken when he died.

Slap-Happy said...

Oct 28, 1994. News reached me that my 1st child had been born. My responsibility turned real, and I became an adult on that day.

But the dark side of life has never managed to penetrate the haze of happy that enshrouds me. Most of it just makes me giggle. Darker stuff makes me smile. It takes some seriously twisted crap without a scrap of humor (which is hard to find) in order to upset me.

In many ways, I'm still naive.