So, not even a week into November and the holiday rush is here. . . I am inundated with custom orders already and it's still pretty early. . . . to make things seem even more off track this comes on the heels of a week long trip back to my childhood home.
This always stirs so many things inside.
I am, of course, thrilled to see my mother who, in her 80's is not going to be traveling across the country to see me any time soon. And, those of you who have read my blog probably know that I had a magical and very inspired childhood. . . so that should be a wonderful thing to return to, right?
Well, not always.
Here's the thing. . . there is, undoubtedly, a very strong pull to the landscape of my youth but, every time I return, I am reminded how lucky I was to have traveled and explored the larger world before settling into myself in my 20's. I imagine this is a fact of growing up in any strong cultural area but, when I return, more than the nostalgia of my childhood, there is the reminding of the angst of my teen years and the fact that often haunts me is this.
If I had not "gotten out" all those years ago, I would likely never have found my way to the work or the life I have now. So for all of the wonder of immersion back into those fields of imagined wonder, I struggle with the painful reminders of how limiting life there might have been if I had stayed. While most kids in their late teens and early 20's in that neighborhood were partying on the slag heaps of the abandoned steel mills or sitting on the train trestle, feet dangling 50 feet above the river, with liquor bottle in hand, I was working double shifts at an Italian restaurant saving money like mad for my first trip to Europe. A trip that changed my view on life forever. A trip that set me aside from that neighborhood and left me on the outside looking in forever more.
For the few friends of that childhood who I visit with when I return, when we see each other it is like no time has passed. They exclaim time and again "nicolas, you never change" and that, when I am home, they FEEL as if they are 12 again too. Funny to me because I am the one who really changed. .. . yet those times, when I return, are still as they were and not muddied with another 30 years of adulthood in the same landscape. Perhaps that is why, when I go home, I am able to pick up those days right where I left them?
I imagine there WILL come a day when I will be too old to throw that Nerf football around or chase wiffle balls and fireflies. When an excursion through the woods will be best left to manicured paths and level ground. When the lure of those earliest creations and indulgences in imagination will fade to the background. . . but it's hard to fathom now.
The hardest part of those trips back is that, in the time I have alone there, I find myself craving to also return to the games of my days spent in solitude. Which were many and more than those spent with friends.
In my youth, I and my imagination were always best on our own. That's changed too of course, and for the better, but in those days I looked forward to nothing more than the hours undisturbed to dive into the creations and games and worlds that lived only in my own head.
And those, as an adult, in that landscape, are harder to recapture. Maybe it's adult self consciousness or just a reverence for something I know can never be relived?
So I return to the here and now and the myriad of new worlds I have created and share with like souls out there. That I share here with you.
It's every bit as good as those days and, for the adult in me, it's better for the soul.
But the child is there too, neve changing, never far away.
Smiling and dreaming
Eternally and blessedly unchanged
young. . .