Heather O'Neill: Childhood is an adventure - tell me yours

Writers carry around their childhoods like suitcases wherever they go and rummage around in them mercilessly for material. Those of us with bad childhoods show up with huge trunks filled with all manner of treasure. We are like Marco Polo, arriving from a strange unfathomable land with tales of wondrous adventures that we have survived. It is finally our time to stand on our milk crates in the town square and shine.

But everyone has had a mad childhood, filled with falling out of trees and first kisses and wretched teachers. We were all to some degree exiled orphans subject to the cruel vicissitudes of crazy caregivers. Every life is an adventure. No life is easy. And childhood is funny as hell. Nothing makes me laugh harder than when my sisters recall some of the absurd things that happened to us as kids. One of my favorite things about meeting someone new is hearing all the stories from their life.

Part of the bloom of romance and courtship for me is the exchanging of favorite childhood tales with a new person. They are as intimate and wonderful as flowers bought at the subway stall. They break my heart and make me fall in love. The older I get the more enchanting childhood seems to me. Time, you can't take this away from us! We'll always have these tales to prove that we, too, were once in that magical land, like Aladdin pulling a golden pear from his pocket, or Gulliver taking a tiny little sheep out of his knapsack.

Tell us your stories. Pretend these are our days of wine and roses and you are sharing your past with us. And we will love you for who you were when you were little and filled with the romance and peril of being alive.

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