How’d life turn out for you, Raylene Crocker?

If you think of your mind being one big filing cabinet, it only makes sense that one day, it gets full.  As you approach that bloating point of information overload, I imagine that you start to let some things go to make room for the barrage of details that are more important to what’s going on in your life today.

I was pondering what to write about this week and starting with a blank slate, I went straight to Raylene Crocker.  She was the girl next door when I was like 4 or 5 and I really don’t remember that much about her.  I have some old black and white pictures to assist me and a couple of jumpy moments in the home movies video, but other than that, when I think of Raylene, I think of a girl a year or two older than me, wearing her one-piece bathing suit and a plastic swimmer’s cap that girls wore back in those days.  Funny that I remember her wearing that, since the only times we went swimming together were in a 6-inch deep swimming wading pool that you had to inflate.

I couldn’t even begin to remember what her parents looked like.  Checking back in to the dusty corners of my memories, I recall them moving away when I was 6.  I heard later that they had gotten a divorce and once they were gone from the neighborhood, the news about the Crockers stopped.

But, for some reason, I remember Raylene.  You don’t hear that name very often.  Probably what keeps her memory so alive is the time when we were over in her yard, playing in that inflatable swimming pool that hardly had any water in it.  As we both laid there talking next to each other, she grabbed the side of the pool, pulled it over us like a blanket, then leaned over and kissed me.  To be completely honest, I don’t recall if it was on the lips or just the cheek, I just remember it being a kiss.  My first ever outside of the aunts or grandmas that would peck your cheek.

And that’s what I remember most about Raylene Crocker.  It only happened once.  At the time, I didn’t really understand what had happened or its significance, but her I am half a century later reflecting on that sunny California afternoon–before school, work or any other daily obligations other than just being a kid–but on that day, Raylene, you entered my mind and have been there ever since.

I hope life turned out well for you, Raylene, and that you realized all of your dreams or at least some of them.  Everyone has their own ‘first kiss’ story.  I suppose mine was on the early side,  but not too early so that I don’t remember it. That was a long time ago, but it’s one of those  childhood memories I can remember like it was yesterday.

Tim Hunter

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