Where never is heard a discouraging word

16 08 2011

So I went away for awhile.

Surprised my mom for her 70th birthday. Made her happy.

And I saw old friends, of course, which meant I drank and ate (cheese curds!) and laughed and drank and ate and laughed. That was good. Made me happy.

I walked all over town, down past the dime store and up and around the old elementary school and junior high (now just a middle school) and over to the athletic field.

It seemed so big, back then. Now, it was just quiet.

And T. and I walked amongst the sand dunes  at a park we call Terry-Andrae but the state calls Kohler-Andrae:

When I was a kid my family regularly camped at Terry-Andrae, along with a group of my parents’ friends. (I smoked my first cigarette at 9 with B., who was 11. Coughed. A lot.) We’d tear around on bikes or go tromping along the dunes or thread our way through the trees—anything where we could pretend we were completely on our own.

Anyway, I remember the dunes as more sand than green, and there were no wooden pathways through the ups-and-downs, but, y’know, folks nowadays are much more concerned about preservation than anyone was back in the ’70s.

We used to launch ourselves off the tops of the dunes, counting on the sand below to give and slide down with us. That lower part of the dune, looking out over Lake Michigan, is still sandy (didn’t take a shot of that), so it could still be done.

You might get yelled at by park rangers, though.

No ranger in sight at the park below the falls in town:

The river is brown and muddy; it’s been brown and muddy for as long as I can remember.

My mom, who grew up in town, remembers when the dyes of the woolen factory (pictured below; now converted into apartments) would turn the river green or red or blue.

That rusted-brown bridge in the back? That was an active railroad bridge back in the day (since decommissioned, although there is talk of bringing it back), one which we would cross as kids.

Weren’t supposed to, of course, and you had to screw up your courage to do it the first time, but after awhile it was second nature to skip across the ties rather than take the sidewalk on the “regular” bridge.

Yeah, that’s all closed off now, too, though I bet kids are still finding their ways across that bridge.


Snips and snails and puppy dog tails

13 07 2011

I know, children die every day, children are killed every day. This is heartbreaking, nonetheless:

The search for a missing 8-year-old Brooklyn boy ended early on Wednesday when investigators discovered what they believed to be his remains . . . .

The grim discovery capped two days of intense searching for the boy, Leibby Kletzky, who had disappeared along a short walk between a Borough Park school and a meeting place with his parents on Monday. Police detectives searched around his neighborhood and used helicopters to find the boy, who was part of the Hasidic Jewish community. They recovered video clearly showing the boy alive.  . . .

The police said it was the boy’s first day of walking home by himself. “He’d asked his parents’ permission to walk home alone and the parents were waiting outside” for him to return, Mr. Browne said.

The parents live on 15th Avenue. They were to meet their son at 13th Avenue and 50th Street; six blocks from the school.

The police retrieved other video showing the boy walking near a hardware store in the direction of where he was to meet his parents, but not quite at that spot.

His first day walking home alone! He must have been so excited. . . .

My condolences to his family.

All alone in the moonlight

1 11 2009

I take back everything I said.

Well, not everything.

And I don’t really take it back.

Let me, shall we say, add to what I wrote in the last post.

Memory matters to me. I don’t want to get ensnared in it, but I don’t want to forget, either.

I don’t want to live in those memories, don’t want to act as if that’s where my life really is or belongs. I’m not about to head off to my first day of first grade.

But that was once me. I did once wear dresses my mom made, wear ponytails (which I preferred to pigtails, i.e., knots worn high above the ears) and barrettes, and smile into the sun and for the camera.

Today I only occasionally wear my hair in a single ponytail, only occasionally smile into the sun, and rarely for the camera.

This isn’t a paean to lost innocence. I was six then and am some decades past six now. I grew up, and am glad for that.

I lost a lot along the way, as does every person who makes the trek from child- into adulthood, and have gained, as well. Again, nothing unusual about that.

And I guess that’s what I do need to remember, that there is nothing unusual about this—that I do have a past in addition to a present and likely a future. This is what it is to be a modern adult.

But I also have to remember that I have as much and as little control over that past as I do my future. I can’t always call up memories at will, can’t always place them when they do surface, and don’t always know what to do with them. Good, bad, happy, sad, indifferent—doesn’t matter. They’re there and they’re gone and they sometimes come back.

And in coming and going they carry pieces of me with them.

I live here, now, but I don’t yet understand what it is to live here, now, and to move into my future. No, I don’t want, per my last post, to get stuck in a cul-de-sac of my past, but I can’t and don’t want to erase it, either.

Not anymore, at least: I have tried, and failed, to erase it. If you don’t think you belong in life, it’s only a hop to the belief that you need to erase all evidence of your self, if only in yourself.

But now I’m re-constructing my life, re-claiming it. I have no idea what I’m doing, not sure of these pieces which come both bidden and not so, not sure of my. . . hopes? possibilities? for the future.

(And, oh yes, I can carried away by the future, as well; what finer form of escapism than to think But later, after. . . ?)

Neither my past nor my future is under as much control as my present, and even my present is under less control than I would like (tho’ I do admit that that’s not wholly a bad thing).

Still, I am here, now, which means making what sense I can of who I was, then.

Or at least recognizing that I was, then.

Bury me deep

27 09 2009

This is terrifying.

It’s from the head cam of a skier who set off—and was buried in—an avalanche. Over half of the video (total time: ~8 1/2 mins)  is simply a shot of fractured blue, with the skier’s stressed breathing providing the soundtrack.

Sweet Jesus! (said the unbeliever).

I was once buried under snow, albeit for likely less than a minute.

Although we lacked mountains in SmallTown, Wisconsin, we did have snow. One wintry day, when I was very small (4? 5?), I stood with the older kids on our dead-end block and waited for Mr. K. (a neighbor who worked for the city) to pass by where we were standing with the snowplow. The idea was to let the snow knock us over.

Good times.

It’s just possible that the older kids warned me off, or told me to back up, but it doesn’t matter: I stood along side of them as the plow passed.

And was promptly knocked back and buried by the thrown snow.

I do remember screaming. The kids pulled me out lickety-split, and I remember laughter. I think it was meant to reassure me.

Still, I screamed.

I doubt I told my parents. Bad enough to get stuck under a reverse-snowplow-avalanche; who needed yelling or a spanking on top of it?

I haven’t been buried alive since, although I retain my fear of such a possibility to this day. I think it at least partially explains my aversion to spelunking, the unlikeliness I would ever do anything other than open-sea diving, and my mild claustrophobia. Coupled with a near-drowning at 9, it is no surprise that I remain highly protective of my ability to breath at all times.

Guess I can cross back-country downhill skiing off the list, too.