When I was 12, every day was exciting yet simple! I couldn’t wait to go to school and see Bill every day. I thought I was in love yet the love was the muse of a young girl waiting to escape. Escape what, you ask? The perceived pain of the unknown in our family was what I feared.
My father was very ill and I felt this deep within long before the crisis hit. I just chose to ignore it. I lived the life of a teenager filled with angst and trepidation. Only my closest friends knew. My confidence hid the mask of fear I didn’t acknowledge. Perhaps I am just beginning to understand this now.
Our garden sloped down to the Niagara River. It actually just dropped! A rope swing hung in the precarious branches that stretched over the swift waters eddying and pooling beneath the lone rope. The river represented life and danger and my playground. No matter the season, it was magic! The rock on the riverbank was my safe place and I found myself often perched upon it, dreaming of love and security and attachment. It was a place for reflection.
The house itself had large picture windows that opened to a stunning view of the oak trees and the river. Cardinals, Blue-jays, Eagles and critters that frequented their hollows and branches were my friends. I never felt alone as I would study them for hours and tell them my secrets through whispers. I dreamt of being a vet one day.
Within the rock wall beside our kitchen scurried chipmunks. Squirrels and raccoons visited and set up home in the hollows of the shed at the base of the slope and amongst the trees. The raccoons even had a little family and they would curiously sneak up on us when we were down on that rock only to scurry back to safety once discovered.
I was an only child adopted by a loving couple in Western NY in the USA. We lived simply in a small town and I could walk just about anywhere. I longed for something but rarely knew what that was. I spent my time drawing, running, singing or riding horses with Jackie who was Bill’s twin sister and a close friend. I longed to own a horse of my own but we couldn’t afford it. My first kiss was in the old barn so in my angst, I would count the days between riding sessions. Although I saw Bill in school, it was the time spent in the woods and at the barn that were what I waited for. We experimented and danced close to slow music. We held hands when we skated. We sped down the country paths on a snowmobile in winter. In summer, it was a bicycle. He loved animals but he loved cars and engines more. It was Jackie and I who shared the rest.
If I could do it all over again, I would return to the place where I grew up and spend more time. I would share it all with my grown up kids.
Today, their dreams are just beginning and I return to mine with vivid memories. The stone cobbled house along the river represents a piece of me that lay dormant waiting for spring.