Sometimes the word traveling means exactly what you would expect. A journey from one place to another. A journey such as my travels for the last few days. But that journey also led me to a journey back in time. As I skirted the DC area the route that the GPS had me on caused me to pass by my old neighborhood in Columbia, MD, where I lived for about 30 years. This is the lake in my former backyard. More of a lake than the little pond in the backyard of the FL house I’ve lived in for the last 10 years. So I stopped for pictures, not a big surprise there. Times have changed however, and there was a sign suggesting that you not leave valuables in your car, and my car was full of them, so I only wandered a little with Ozzie, and only took a few pictures.
But that little walk brought back so many memories. Memories of walking around the lake with my kids. It was 1.86 miles around, according to a painted on hash mark and notation on the bike path. We walked with the kids, and a succession of dogs, four that I can think of. Time passed and my son and his friend would take our inflatable raft out into the lake, and come back soaking wet, insisting that it just tipped over. I saw them out there one day when I had the dog out however, and they were. falling off on purpose. I was glad he was able to have those adventures, that was my attitude at the time, but by today’s standards I should probably be arrested.
Then there came the day that my son came home asking my permission to go ride his bike off a ramp and fly through the air into the lake. “It’s supervised,” he insisted, “There are adults there.” I said no, but it only took me a minute to decide that he probably wan’t going to be able to resist, and what the heck was going on anyhow? So I put the dog on the leash as my excuse to go check on him, and sure enough, there were kids flying through the air with their bikes and landing in the water. There was an adult there to retrieve the bikes, and everyone had matching tee shirts on. And no, he didn’t get to do it.
One day at the end of the summer my son proudly brought me to se the tree house that he and a friend had built. All built with scavenged wood from the construction in the neighborhood, or so he assured me. When we got there I saw little short pieces of wood that created a stair of sorts up a VERY tall tree. And the platform up there was small, and downright scary looking. He was probably 14 or so, an awkward time in a kid’s life, and all along I was happy that he was happy and busy all that summer. Now I was prepared to worry about all the potential disasters associated with it, but the condo association eventually got wind of it and tore it down. I was relieved to not have to be the bad guy in that situation.
Eventually grandchildren came along, and we walked to the playground when they were little. Even they got old enough for adventures. Kara was walking on the rocks around the lake, which was man-made and in a planned community, and when her foot slipped between two rocks she disturbed a bee’s nest, and I could hear the screaming as she and her brother and a neighbor kid came running home. Kara got the worst of it as I shampoo’d lots and lots of bees out of her scalp. Why do I mostly remember the mis-adventures?
I lived in that house longer than I lived in my home town in Massachusetts, longer than I lived in New England. And yet home, to me, is still New England. I moved away from that neighborhood with all it’s fond memories, and never looked back. I lived in lots of places in my life, Indiana, and California, and that house in Maryland. But I never called a place ‘home’ in the same sense that New England was home to me. And I’m so happy to be here right now…