The man in the moon had no American flag jabbed into his cratered face, a far-away nation called Vietnam occupied America's consciousness, Watergate was simply a hotel complex, and Bob Dylan had pretty much gone silent.
My chubby inner ugly-duckling had become a swan, I was taller, leaner, stronger. Five feet five inches, one hundred five pounds of tanned, slim, robust health, yet my siblings called me fat.
But I was happy. What was mine was mine. Bike riding, roller skating, tree climbing, swimming, going to Vacation Bible School for a week, Sunday school and church on weekends. Life was good.
Looking back, 1968's summer seems like a personal last hurrah.
If only I'd known. Yet, knowing would have merely stolen the golden joy, it could not have changed a thing.
In the fall I would begin Junior High where bullies were prevalent, and gym class meant mandatory group showers. What was mine had to be put on display every day and I resented it. While my gym teacher faithfully 'observed' with her 'friend', I had to replicate what to me felt like Jews going into 'showers' that were gas chambers. Herded. Forced against my will. Five days a week. Though I live to tell the tale it doesn't help to find out later that my ever watchful gym teacher and her 'friend' were lesbians. To them I was nubile delight.
A year later we moved to Oregon and I lost my social connections. Friends, gone. Familiar neighborhood, gone. Youth group, gone. Aunts, uncles, cousins, gone. Safe neighborhood streets for bike riding and skating replaced with a high, narrow, private hill-top with nothing but down and a long up again should I descend at any point. I blew my bicycle brakes within the first month by squeezing them as I coasted down the steep, skinny, gravel driveway hoping to miss cars as they ascended in my direction.
Our secluded Oregon hill-top felt like prison. To walk the oak and madrone dotted fifty acres of 'down' meant tediously straining to avoid plentiful poison oak and searching my body for bloodthirsty wood ticks upon return. The cons soon outweighed the pros. With both parents frantically working away from home, life became a housebound venture of homework, TV, snacks, and slow, steady weight gain.
But alas, it did me good to face a harsher world.
Still, I miss my innocent summer of 1968.
"Solitary trees, if they grow at all, grow strong." ~~ Winston Churchill