We lived in Georgetown, CO that year. I was seven, and had never lived in a small town before.
It was the kind of place where it was safe for us to go skating on the frozen-over baseball diamond, and walk home after dusk in the yellow glow of street lamps, without having to worry that we might be snatched from the street. We would laugh, and sing, and scare ourselves imagining horrible creatures in the shadows, but it was “good” fear, the kind that energizes the imagination, and gives you just enough of an adrenaline boost that you can walk home briskly, even though your toes are numb from skating too long in the December chill.
It was the year that my friends and I wanted leather: equestrian riding apparel like boots and tack (even if some of us didn’t own horses, we loved the smell and feel of tack), and more froufrou leather goods like designer boots from Frye and leather visors. Siobhan’s parents owned the leather goods store and we would all go hide in the back where the big coats were, and pretend it was a leather forest. Oh, the smell of new jackets: smooth leather, yes, but also buckskin (hey, this was Colorado in the seventies after all. )
I remember having to warm my poor dog’s toes to get the ice out of her matted poodle fur after walkies, and I remember sitting on the couch watching bad Christmas movies and how her white ruff made her look like she was wearing a turtleneck, and I remember her warm furry body pressing close to me in bed at night.
Mostly, though, I remember itchy mime make-up, being asked to “go steady” by Gil (who was NINE), and coming home on cold afternoons to sip cocoa in the vault-cum-office at the back of the store, where I would be lulled into sleepy bliss by the whirring of my mother’s ancient black Singer sewing machine.
I remember that poodle thing too. The poor dog would be limping so bad that we’d have to break up the balls of snow/ice several times during the walk just to keep her moving.