Essays

A collection writings and thoughts by artist Gary Llama.

On Missing Childhood

I’ve always been a person weary of the past. Having played in a band in high school, and having my teens be such a liberating time, it’s easy to get romantic about that time. But I’m weary of getting ‘stuck’ in the past.

Usually, the thinking about the past is dreadful. Looking back seems like death. Because there is no movement in looking back. There is no promise in looking back. There is just what already happened.

However, despite this deep understanding, I’ve been feeling sentimental, or wanting, back to my childhood. Not my teens, when I was playing with bands, but my early teens.

One moment in particular.

I remember the sun coming in my bedroom window. I’m eleven or twelve. And I’m sick. Probably just IBS. Or a cold, I cannot remember exactly. But I rember having energy, yet very little balance. Very light headed. And so I put on my clothes and went out and spent the day building a little launch ramp, then skating the crap out of it. Just me, my skateboard, and an afternoon. It was, despite being sick, pretty awesome.

Perhaps I felt the nostalgia because recently I had a cold, and felt physically, very similar to that day. So I decided to explore the feeling a bit.

Why then? I’ve had colds before and after that day.

Part of me thinks it was security. That day, I felt secure that, while I was indeed sick, I could manage to do these things and not fuck myself up. Being eleven, I had never had to admit defeat to a sickness and call an ambulance, knowing that I actually needed one, that second. And so I pushed myself past what was probably safe, because I had that safety net, of both ignorance, and youth, and that I had parents looking out for me, despite neither of them being home at the time. I just didn’t even consider it. So perhaps it was the security I am longing for.

There is another aspect. I had a skateboard, skate clothes, wood to build a ramp, a nice house to stay warm in when done, and a cul-de-sac devoid of traffic that day to carry it out in. I was a middle class kid. Perhaps it is longing for that solitude of the suburban cul-de-sac, or the longing for the apparatus needed to indulge in such a thing.

This led me to thinking about getting a skateboard now, and after a few minutes on Ebay, concluding that, goddammit, I want MY old skateboard, and goddammit, a used one goes for $500 or so fucking dollars now?!?!

OK, so not only can I not afford my old skateboard, but I really can’t even afford a reissue of one.

Fast-forward to me buying my daughter tech decks reissue skateboard toys at Target, and putting the stickers on the back of my car. Fast forward to a few months later and me pulling them back off the car.

Still focusing on the skateboard, the clothes, the culture; could things have been just a billion times better back then? A quick survey of modern-day skateboarding accouterments may confirm this, non are as iconic as Powell Peralta or Vision (the makers of boards, and clothing back then) were. But I’m weary of dismissing as just my biased judgement, that of a 36-year old judging a culture much different than the skating culture I grew up in. Perhaps to kids now, it IS as awesome as the days of old.

And then to a thought: Perhaps it was my lack of experience, or knowledge, or responsibility, that makes me yearn for those days of youth.

Not every memory I have of those times has grown beautiful. I can’t forget the whole reason I was home that day, as a kid, was because I was sick. In reality, I was making the best of a bad situation. And my hopes back then, so many hopes, were really that I would turn out something like I have, though I’m sure I’d have hoped to have a lot more health, and a more stable financial situation. But as that kid, while I had the security of parents financially, of middle class cul-de-sac life, all I had of my own, of my own accomplishments, was very very little. Almost nothing. And here I am, having accomplished many things of theoretical and actual importance to myself, longing for a time when I had so little.

What is that about?

I read sometimes of folks and their regrets. I listened recently to a podcast, ‘Advice to our younger selves’ or something to that effect. And in this episode, the presenters focused mostly on what they would tell their high school selves. ‘Don’t be afraid to be different’. ‘Do what you love, not what you think you should do’. I couldn’t relate at all, but it intrigued me.

Perhaps it was the upbringing I had, but I believed you had to fight for yourself. And so once I became a conscious actor, I began doing what I wanted to do, because I knew I would have to pay for my actions, regardless. So pay for what you love. And if you do whats in your heart, it is much easier to take that criticism/punishment/beating than to do it for something you THINK you should do, theoretically, but not in your heart.

Mentioning all this to my wife, she said I was probably thinking about my youth because of our own child. Yes, she is most likely right. As a parent, I try to keep my mind open to the duality of every situation: To me what seems routine, another day, may be to my daughter, the best day of her life. And that possibility, keeps me hopeful every time I look at her, no matter the situation. Even under the most stress, it’s still there in the back of my mind, reminding me of the possibilities of different points of view in everything.

I’m sure I’ll keep examining this memory, and come to some sort of conclusion, with time.

About The Site

Llamatism is a collection of things, a cabinet of curiosities, and reports from explorations on things, by Gary Llama.

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