Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Dreams Stirred by a Visit to My Empty Boyhood Home

There is no way I can translate the visceral hold my childhood home had, and still has, on me. The place is no longer mine -- my brother and I finally realized we couldn't hold onto it forever, and neither of us had the money or the time to keep the place up. Before we let it go, I made a couple of trips to visit on the premise that I was going to clean the place up, but I was actually passing precious time with an old friend. I said my good-byes through tears so thick I couldn't see anything more than a blur -- like a dream fading away.

I've found that the exercise of "free-writing" or "stream-of-consciousness" is not only good writing practice, but it's often therapeutic. In this type of writing you basically let go, it goes where it will; puntuation and polish are secondary, but even that seems to add to the magic of it. Here are some images that streamed from deep within me after one of those last trips home:

Willow branches dance and leap in the wind, sunshine fire flashes like lightning in the shadows...layers of soft dirt are lifted up on the swirling breeze and take wing on the liquid waves of soft warm air...the chimera of swirling dust plays tricks on my eyes, and I wonder what it’s all about, what it means... I search through the meadow looking deep into the grass, trying to find something that I lost when I was a little boy, a beloved toy that came from a penny gum machine, a cheap trinket that is more priceless than gold to a naïve little boy, barefoot in dirty green shorts, a motley face, traces of dirt smeared against the chocolate milk that trickled out of the corners of his favorite cup...it’s a yellow cup with a top on it, like a Tupperware cup...maybe it was a Tupperware cup, I don’t know...there are so many things that I remember, and so many things that I can’t seem to place, I can’t put all the pieces together...I was afraid of elves and fairies, afraid that little people dwelled in my house... now my house is empty, and I wish that the little people did dwell there, that they would protect it, keep it safe -- on Saturday nights there was country music at the big Hillsboro dance, and people came from all over: Monticello and Jackson and Juliette...there was live music by Harry Lynn and the Stardusters – oh, how I would love to taste the sounds of that sweet homemade stardust once again...it seems that it has been forever ago, and I suppose it might as well have been, because when something is over and past, it’s gone...as far as I know forever, and forever is a terribly long time to long for something that doesn’t even exist anymore...there is no longer a barelegged little boy with cowlicks in his brown hair roaming the fields and woods and dirt sidewalks of Hillsboro, Georgia -- before the ringer washing machine came to live on our back porch, there were heavy black-iron wash pots of boiling water for washing clothes... the fires that sent water to boiling have long since grown cold, but the memory of the tender smell of burning wood in the distance, like fragrant incense, is closing in on me taking me back...the sun glints in my eye, through my eyelashes I can see it, experience it, but nobody else can, and I want so badly for someone else to feel this with me... but they have their own experiences and I can’t know them...I can project from my own experiences and try to imagine what it may be like for them -- maybe there is a way to feel what another feels...true, deep empathy...is it possible? There is so much I don’t know, so much I cannot fathom...maybe there is magic...maybe there are ghosts and little people living in my little house, like I believed when I was a little boy... but the little house is no longer mine... only the dreams...only the dreams.

1 comment:

Melanie said...

I feel the connection you have to your childhood home, even though I never had a childhood home. Your love for place and memories is inspiring. I can't see your home, but I feel the love and desire you have for it.