My Leaky Childhood



My childhood was the kind you read about in storybooks. I’ve circled round this truth, repeatedly, in the last few months.

Perhaps, this musing comes of the joy born from this other childhood being spun right before me, that of my surprise baby. Because, sometimes, I feel the pull of his glorious story unfurling in and around my fingertips, and then again, as it drips off his golden curls and spills generously into the shadows I cast upon the floorboards and I can’t help but connect it with my own halcyon memories.

When I really press into the running tapes of my earlier days, they are cloaked in a soft quiet, not unlike the sound of snow falling. I think this is because I spent a lot of time alone, by choice, as a child.

Yes, I had my circle of friends and a large extended family that gathered regularly but, after I had fulfilled the expected social commitments, I often slipped away.

Tree tops were my favorite escapes.

Many an afternoon I spent wedged between two thick branches, my breathing stilled by, and intuitively synced with, the scant sway of the trunk that held me fast. Oh, the many hours I wiled away, staring at leaves silhouetted against marbled skies, the “lustrous ripple” fluttering across my face and arms. After time spent in my beloved tree tops, I was always more settled in my deepest places.

Sometimes, the solitude came as I jumped on my bicycle and rode to nowhere in particular. Initially, I would furtively spin my legs, earnestly believing that I might very well whisk myself into another dimension. But then, I would scale a hill and welcome the release of coasting downward, steadily gathering speed and, suddenly, I was all wind and blur and light. While encased in a cocoon of my own making, something magical was being born in me.

And then there was my bedroom window—a private portal to that suspended space that hovers and hums and is completely unknown to those walking, obliviously, below.

I watched the birds for hours. I listened to their chattering and sing song and, with the gift of measured time, came to know them intimately. I marveled at the variety of green that broke open before me, as if I had taken a fingertip heavy with dew and touched the canvas spread wide. All of that color was life itself and, often, I got lost in its shimmering vibrations.

My childhood window was a teacher, gently instructing me in the discipline of seeing and framing the world in all its gilded glory.

I know, now, how very much I took those lessons to heart. I see, now, how my childhood is leaking all over my current life.

For it seems that the common denominator in all of those generous memories was an inherent understanding of my smallness. Not the kind of smallness that comes from being diminutive in size or patronizingly pressed upon. No, not that kind of small.

Rather, over the years, I slowly drank in the fantastic notion that this Great Big Something, the one that held and shook me, the one that tilted and whirred and breathed into me, consisted of an ever expanding collection of other small things.

In all that is big and alive and singing in this world? Right in the eye of all that rages and burns and dances before us? There is a center, strung with featherlike filament. It is here where the light catches or cells string like bells or heat jumps or galaxies are birthed.

It is from that small center that life is flamed into being.

And so it is that, when my current life begins to feel too big, too loud or too bossy, I return to the practice of feeling small again. I let those ripples of beauty or the magic of meandering or the view through a frame leak all over my days. I settle into the place whence I came in order to better understand what steps I might take next.

I recognize that tree limbs splinter, tires go flat, windows break and even gilded frames crack with time. But to rest in the spaces that lift me higher or carry me forward or infuse the view with color or frame the world in glory—that is what it means to sit in the small place and be held.

And who among us doesn’t sing outright when rocked in a hammock of hope and beauty?

Holly Grantham
Holly is a wife, very relaxed homeschooling mom of three boys, snapper of photos, coming of age writer and a soul drowning in grace. After years in Atlanta where she attended college, married the love of her life and lived in an intentional community, she found her way back to her home state of Missouri. She now lives in an antebellum stone house, raises chickens (sometimes) and pretends that she lives in the country.
Holly Grantham

Latest posts by Holly Grantham (see all)

Holly Grantham