I want to take you somewhere very special to me. Most of my friends have never been here, but they’ve heard a lot about it.
This is a magical place. It’s the place where my parents met and fell in love. It’s the place where I spent my whole life until I was five, and most weekends and holidays until I was 17. It’s the place where my imagination took flight, and I truly learned to dance.
No matter where I go, or how much time passes, this place is a constant.
It’s changed over the years. There used to be a giant pear tree in that grassy space. It dropped hundreds of tiny red pears every summer, and the wasps would cluster on them, feeding happily. My brother and I used to munch on the fallen (and wasp-free) fruit, and my mom made them into cakes. Whenever I taste a really ripe pear, I remember that tree.
This used to be a hill we sledded on in winter and rolled down in the summer. Of all the changes my parents’ house as seen, this one still catches me off guard. Don’t get me wrong, the terraced gardens are beautiful. It’s just a little weird to me. Xander will never know what it’s like to play on this particular hill.
Some changes are just the product of passing years. We built this treehouse when I was about 12. My dad built the actual platform, and we helped nail up footholds on the tree trunks so we could climb up. When I see it now, it makes me realize how long ago that was. Now I have a little one of my own. Someday I want to help Xander make a treehouse. Maybe in this tree, if it’s still standing.
But not everything has changed. In fact, so much more of this magical place has stayed the same…
This is the living room. This is where I danced. Starting when I was 3 or 4, I would put music on the record player almost every day, and this room became my stage. I’ve been a fairy, a princess, a goddess, a monk, a pirate, a fisherman’s wife, and a gypsy in this room…all depending on my mood and what music I chose.
So little of this room has changed. The furniture’s been reupholstered, but every piece of it strikes a chord of memory. I know every inch of it. The grandfather clock you see there? His name is Henry, and he’s about 150 years old. His chimes marked the hours of every day I spent here.
Oh, and that GIANT pile of Duplo? That’s the same Duplo that my brother and I played with. It’s Xander’s favourite thing in the world. I recall it being one of my favourite things too.
The kitchen is one of the hearts of the house. And it never changes. The spices are lined up in the same order. The counter is always cluttered. And these same coffee cans have been holding the same utensils as long as I can remember. OK, some of the spatulas and spoons are new. But most of them? As old as me.
Every time I see that wooden kitchen countertop, I remember rolling out cookies and pies. My friend Marsha and I were in charge of making the gingerbread Christmas cookies for a year or two there. Every time I make them at home for my family, I think of that.
And here’s Easter dinner. Lamb. Potatoes. Veggies. Wine. Always. See those hot cross buns in the background? Made by my mom, and always the same.
I could go on and on…there are so many wonderful corners in this house, and each one has a memory.
But here…here is where the magic really happened. And where time stands still:
This is The Shore. I know every rock on it. I know the view by heart. I know the sound, the smell, the feel, and the taste of it. It’s imprinted on my memory and burned into my imagination, because this is where I really learned to “make believe.”
Here princesses were kidnapped by pirates, “fish” were caught (it was seaweed), and restaurants were operated.
Here forts were built, beach glass was collected, and sandfleas were disturbed. And many, many rocks were thrown into the water.
In my teens and twenties, I forgot how to appreciate this place. I avoided it. I thought it was boring, and going there just got in the way of ballet classes and studying. But now when I come back here…it’s like visiting what’s at the heart of ME, that part deep inside that is unshaken and unshakable and constant, no matter what life throws at me and no matter how much my outside changes. For a long time I forgot that part of me existed, but going home reminds me, lets me see it face to face…
…and it’s amazing.
Do you have a place like this? When was the last time you went back?