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Walking backwards

July 13, 2010

This morning, I dropped AJ and The Boy Across the Street at camp, abandoned my car, and went for a long walk. I headed out along the main road, past the new church, nearly finished, past the old farm houses and an abandoned barn, past the day care where all the children were running around in bathing suits and sliding into a tiny wading pool, shrieking with delight, and out toward the next village, where AJ used to practice football. I wanted to see the lake.

It’s a funny lake. It’s not big. It’s not fancy. But something about it draws me there. Maybe it was the way we discovered it. I couldn’t help but remember that day. It was almost exactly two years ago, but I’m struck in rereading my account at how much AJ has changed in those two years. I don’t think this kind of moment is one we’d easily experience again. He is on to other things. He’s more self-conscious. It’s harder for him to just plunge in and experience things. I stopped at the beach, which was deserted, as it almost always seems to be, and paused for a moment to walk out on the pier and remember the first time AJ and I were sitting there and he was pretending to fish. I said a little self-pitying requiem for AJ’s rapidly disappearing childhood and moved on.

And then I continued around the lake — this lake — searching for new things and remembering the missing. The bench in the last photo in the above link is no longer there, although the spot looks as inviting as ever. The bench has been replaced with an Adirondack chair painted the colors of rainbow sherbet. I still long to barge into that person’s yard and sit there.

By the time I got all the way around and back to the main road, the sun was hot. I sweated my way back to the park where I’d left the car and took a shortcut across the soccer fields. Big fluffy white clouds were rolling in. The occasional shadows were welcome. In the middle of the field, I stopped and turned and looked up. It’s one of those spots wide enough that you can see the whole dome of the sky. It almost took my breath away, the deep blue overhead fading out to a paler blue along the horizon. I flopped down on my back near the center field line and looked up. I made a note to myself to spend more time looking up. I’d hate to get to the end of my life and regret not having spent enough time admiring the sky. It’s remarkable. And it changes. The sky is not as blue as it used to be.

I didn’t stay long. I was afraid that someone would see me lying there and think I’d expired from heat exhaustion. And besides, I had things to do. I dragged myself back to my car and headed home.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. eleanorio permalink
    July 13, 2010 12:58 pm

    It’s funny how I cannot remember Buddy Boy as a little boy (although of course I do), but when I think of times past, he becomes as big as he is now. Except I do remember him as a child, how he would suddenly be on my lap without me knowing how he insinuated himself upon it, and how I mourned when he was too big to sit there when we played computer games together. He still gives the best hugs, though. Growing up hasn’t changed that.

  2. freshhell permalink
    July 13, 2010 1:11 pm

    I do not spend enough time looking up at the sky. Probably because lying on the ground invites bites by ticks and other critters. But, I should. I should lay out a blanket and lie there like I used to do at the park.

  3. July 13, 2010 2:06 pm

    Ahh, looking up. I regularly get weird looks when I instruct my kids to lay on the floor of the “star room” at our science museum. But how else are you to enjoy the stars? Or fireworks? Or clouds? My favorite photo of Paris was taken from my back, on the ground under the Eiffel Tower. Gotta do it.

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