I wrote this some time ago, but I thought it should find a home here.
November 5, 2009 at 8:05am
It is November, the still and waiting time before the snow begins and hides all the evidence of another year gone. Trees, stripped black, stand grouped and shivering occasionally, stark and lovely, looking like knobby old people drawing close, a little afraid of events to come. I drive down the roads of my childhood, roads I roamed a thousand days on horseback when I was young. I never remember which is which but every house, every vista is familiar, and I can almost hear the slightly echoing clip-clop of my horse’s hooves, alone in the woods, taking in their peace like medicine and absorbing this place like a dream I will not be able to remember.
I grew up here and I ran away young. Only now am I able to return and relish it in any way. I was depressed and lonely as a child, despising myself in a dull, thorough way, and in the way of a child, tattooed every field and lane with my pain. Now I am slowly waking from a long and troubled sleep and am enchanted, confused. What is this place? Where have I been? Why was I so afraid to come back?
Well, the sense of loss IS almost too much for me. Much of a life gone by, so quickly, the lie being that if I kept moving it would seem longer. Can I let this place take me back? Can I allow myself to love it again? It doesn’t seem to leave me desolate as it once did. The grass is so green, so lush and groomed and everything seems soft and slightly out of focus. I walk the road from home and back again and wonder if there is any road in the world that my feet are more familiar with. I think not.
How strange life is, how disjointed it all seems to me. My childhood is all here somehow and yet people live in these houses who don’t even know I exist, don’t even know that these houses aren’t really theirs, they belong to the families I grew up with. People who are dead now. I wander with their ghosts and recall Christmas Eves and summer days that seemed to last forever. Gone, gone, all gone. And I will be gone, really quite soon, and who will remember me? The girl who would never come home. The one who was so unhappy and no one knew why. All the reasons don’t even seem that important to me anymore. I am not that person, really, although I remember her vaguely.
But those same trees, that same light, the hunched mountains, old and smooth, watching me back! How patient the earth is, how implacable, unmoved by my small dramas, yet somehow sympathetic. The oak trees hold on to their bronzed leaves and whisper in a language all their own, and I am comforted by the sound, like a lullaby I have never forgotten but only now recalled.
I have wondered how someone could be born, grow, live and die in the same house, the same place, a whole life lived looking at the same vista. A son taking over the family farm, cleaning the same stalls his grandfather cleaned, only the faces of the cows changing through the years. For I have chosen the life of a wanderer and no place will ever be home, not here, not where I am now, no place I have been. I gave that up, that was the cost for my flight. I don’t know if it was worth it. I don’t regret it, really, but I am aware of the price I have paid as I drive down these roads in the gathering dusk of November and hear each naked tree call me by my name.