Thursday, May 23, 2013

a love letter to my childhood

So much of my childhood is laced in ambiguities that I cannot really dig through the mess to pull out the first. I can remember dreams and colors, can create a memory from a photograph, can tell myself this must be the beginning, but I didn't develop organizational skills early enough to put my memories in order as the happened and instead, I am left with a hazy, diluted mess.

Yet I can remember with astounding clarity the ride to my grandfather's lake house, from waking up at eight in the morning and helping load towels and sunscreen and groceries into the car, to the endless highway. The best part was always the ramp off the highway, the bends in the road that stirred up excitement, until the path to the causeway he lived on appeared. Framed with weeping willows and the Sandusky Bay on either side, it remains the best part of that drive. It is anticipation, the bridge before the chorus, the long stretch of adolescence into adulthood, when being young feels like it is infinite and recurring, that every day will be special.

And then the road curves. The weeping willows are replaced with huge, gray rocks and houses. This is where anticipation was made manifest, in the high rocks, little hands pressed against seats to propel upwards, to see over the rocks, to see the lake. Would it be calm or wavy? Warm or cold? The only way to find out was to strain our necks, to tug at the seat belt restrictions, to unroll dirty windows to see clearly. Just as we caught a good glimpse, though, we would arrive, and the car would turn into the driveway, and we would be able to experience it ourselves.

There was a time that my cousins were my best friends. That every weekend of every summer month was spent in the sunshine. This experience is mine, finite. My supposed children will never know the race into the lake, the burn of sun-soaked sand on anxious soles, the cool relief of diving into the lake water with the ever-present danger of parents looming on the shore, calling us in, bringing us closer. We were children of that house, the lake and bay curved together like parentheses. We were the space between.

We grew up. The parentheses closed. We no longer ate dinner with towels around our waists, eager to jump back in the pool, no, instead, we were busy packing our bags and drying our hair, eager to get home, to the television, to the promise of friends that we had found separately, apart from one another. And we diminished. Older cousins began to go to college, to get married, to start families that would never know those days at the lake, would never feel the anxiety, the excitement, the exhaustion from too much time in the sun. But not just any sun - but this sun. This beach, this house, this pool. Their lives, their experiences with water and sun would be distinct and separate from my own, and as I prepared for college, I felt that iridescent childhood begin to slip away from me, bit by bit.

A day at the lake would be spent in the kitchen, last summer, with my grandpa, or by the pool. In the pool, with my nephews or brothers, occasionally with my cousins and their own children, I came to the startling realization that never again would I regain that all day, everyday experience that only Sandusky could give me. Never again will I reclaim that notion of forever-youth, as though everything was and could be mine, that nothing was out of reach.

Now, perhaps, my childhood is sold away to strangers, a family I will never meet, who will create their own memories in the house whose walls are marked with the stains of my own youth. This tree, that I was pushed into, my knee torn open, this ledge of the pool that we rested blue and pink rafts against and slid into like the pool was eight feet deep rather than five.

Saying goodbye to Sandusky is like saying goodbye to my childhood. It is bitter and it is sweet and it will sorely be missed, not for current usage, as my interests have far outgrown those of the little girl who was always the last to get out of the lake, but missed the way your mouth misses the first teeth it loses. Eventually, something new will grow in.

5 comments:

  1. this is beautiful and i am as always at a loss as to how you command language so beautifully

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  3. tears.... this one got me and that's hard to do..... but NOT ANYMORE APPARENTLY

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  4. oh and sorry about the comment that was removed I SWEAR it was nice but typos got in the way

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