We avoid things. All of us. We avoid people and places, parts of our pasts, parts of our presents. We avoid aspects of life and aspects of self. I’m beginning to think that this is a big piece of adulthood. Avoidance.
See the house above? I’ve been avoiding it. It was my Country House growing up, tucked in a beautiful spot in the Berkshires, and I spent almost every weekend of my childhood there. Many of my memories of being a kid are tied up in this place.
Until this weekend, it had been four years. Four years. Four years of excuses. Four years of not knowing, of not going. We are busy, so busy, I said to Mom, to Husband. To myself.
Truth is I was afraid. Afraid of what going might make me feel, of the images that would alight, of the emotions that would settle. Afraid that I would miss Dad, and think of that last weekend, that Easter Sunday when he didn’t feel good, when he wouldn’t eat the ham.
But we went. We packed the car with six human creatures and two canine ones, and oodles of baggage and gear and we drove. And when we pulled up, Mom said what she said every Friday night of my youth: Whose barn is this? She said this and I smiled. It’s mine, I thought, my mind dancing back.
I looked around. At the big field where I used to run with my sisters and my dogs. At the grass that has continued to grow. The sky. The same sky.
And we went to the park nearby. Where we used to swing, pumping legs and flying high. And I stood back and watched them, my man and my girls. A familiar scene. New characters.
I was particularly focused on my littlest. In her little white dress. With her sweaty flip of blond hair, her bright yellow shoes. I wondered what she saw, and felt, as she swung forward and back.
We walked up to the falls. And the baby and I perched on a rock and watched Daddy with the big girls. They took turns wading in, the water crashing down. Like I used to do.
I held her and we watched. I wanted to tell her things – about how that used to be me, frolicking, fighting the current, soaking up sun. Being young.
We had lunch at one of the picnic tables. Turkey slices and Smart Puffs. Standard fare.
And I sat there at the wooden table with my crew in the almost-summer sun and I realized something: I was, am, happy. Not simple Hallmark happy. No, weighty and complex and real happy. I sat there and it felt good. It felt good to be there, to be back, to be facing, to be feeling. It felt good not to be avoiding.
And then we came back here. To the city, to the sidewalks. We went for an early bite at one of our favorite neighborhood places and then we made our way home. Little Girl has been walking for a while now, but this was the first time we placed her down and said it: Go.
And she did. She stumbled along between her big sisters. And we followed. We watched.
And I can’t explain it but all of this felt different – this walking, this witnessing, this wrestling – because it came on the heels of something important. A step. My affection for them as I watched them on the streets I used to walk when I was a little girl was particularly fierce maybe because I had surrendered some, and I was letting myself feel it, that deep, saturating swirl of memory, people, place, of time. And it was exhausting, this waterfall of awareness, but it was also exhilarating, and downright exquisite.
Going back. Going forward.
All of these things are part of the game.
And this game? It’s a profound honor.
Thrilled to be linking up again this week with some lovely other writers at Just Write and Yeah Write. If you are looking to find some great new blogs, or to expand your blogging community, I encourage you to click over to both sites!
Your turn. What are you avoiding?