OK readers….I’m going to warn you…it’s another one of those "after 1am…I’m still at the office" posts ….
A Space of my Own – Written May 28, 1988 – (Over 20 years ago), when I was in 11th grade…fyi, I got an 88 on it…I had lots of spelling errors (could you guess?).
I remember a time long gone, a time when my only worry was what was going to be for supper. Back then most of my time was spent in the woods. There was one space of my own, a special space. It was centered around a big boulder that was beside a stream. It was a long walk from home, but to me it was worth the journey!
Every day Mom would pack my lunch for my adventure. I used to head out the door with my lunch and a Louisville slugger to fend off the wild beasts of the woods. I’d scamper off into the forest without a care. I would run along a rock wall until the right moment where I would veer off deeper into the woods. A cliff was in my path so I fell and rolled the rest of the way down. Then I’d spot the rock; it towered above the rest. Running up to it I’d climb to the top and eat my lunch.
After lunch my crumbs went to the frogs and fish. Jumping off the boulder I would start my hunt. I always caught some small lobsters (crawfish) and lizards (salamanders). Tonight they’d be in my room until Mom made me take them back tomorrow.
Every day I was some one new: Billy the Kid, Captain Hook, Reggie Jackson, or Superman. Mom would always call me home too soon so I’d have to run home until tomorrow.
Last month I visited my special space. I set off with no lunch and no bat. As soon as I set foot in the woods, the bugs started to eat me alive. I didn’t remember bugs here before. The rock wall was my path until I saw a snake. I somehow managed to miss the spot where I used to veer off and went way past the builder. After I backtracked, I reached the place where the boulder should have been. All I saw was a rock that was a little bigger than the rest, so I sat on it.
I sat and thought about school, girls, parents, and what I was going to do for the rest of my life. I saw a frog, but it quickly jumped away. Across the crick a ragged rope dangles from a tree where Tarzan had once swung. I couldn’t stay long: there was a lot of work to be done.
I knew that the place was still the same, but the place I remembered as a little boy had changed. Somehow the rock had grown smaller, the stream has also moved closer to the house, and my thoughts have moved to things "more important" than frogs and fish.
August 14, 2008: Today, more than 20 years after writing the above, I set out to revisit that boulder.
Background: About 5 years ago I had bought my parents house, but this year we moved, and tomorrow my childhood house is being sold.
Today I was doing the final walk-through of the house I had grown up in when I decided that I’d go for one final hunt through the woods to the boulder where I had spent so much time as a little boy.
I started into the woods, knowing that I’d be heading into work right after that…and if my jeans and sneakers got wet, so be it. I wanted to be in the woods.
Memories came rushing back to me the second I stepped into the woods. I knew exactly where I was…it was as if I was seeing things as I did 30 years ago as a 7 year old.
I followed the rock wall remembering where I had found snakes as a kid, and looking around those areas hoping to see a snake (though I doubt that if I found one, that I’d put it through my belt loops to freak out my wife like I used to do to my mom).
Knowing where the earth would be wet, I traversed right to where I expected to come out in the stream, and I followed it to where the boulder should be. On my way I found the tree that held the Tarzan rope, though the rope was gone today (If it had been there…and looked stable, I would have swung on it…..though I knew that was a pipe dream).
I found the place where the boulder should be…and in between fallen trees, I spotted the boulder. I worked my way through the trees and sat down on the boulder and thought.
I didn’t think about the business (like I tend to do 98% of the time)….I thought about everything that I’d experienced through the years, and how it had all led to what I am today, and will influence what I will be tomorrow. I feel good because in my heart I want to make the world a better place, and I’m working to help contribute to helping make the world a better place (FYI, We Build Pages donated over $100,000 to charities last year, and we’re expecting to give more than that this year….this makes me feel so good inside…it’s hard to express)..sitting there on the boulder, thinking about everything I’ve been through in my life (the good and the bad), has made me into who I am today…and the person I am today is one I’m very happy with.
As I looked around I noticed that the stream had taken a new bend, and was now 20 feet from the rock……The rock, like my deepest feelings, hasn’t moved; the stream, like my life, has meandered….but is ever flowing.
My mind shifted to wondering how life was treating the stream. I got off the boulder and went to the water and saw the same little fish like I remembered watching as a kid. I turned over some rock looking for crawfish or salamanders….but found nothing….if only I had more time and had my boys with me…..they’d love this!
As I started back…..I’ll admit that a tear came to my eye….but it didn’t last long, and was quickly replaced with a smile.
The second I left the woods, my mind went right back into We Build Pages mode….and I kept smiling.