I’ve been stuck indoors for too long, so I decided to pull up some photos I took last year, in September, to write a post and take a virtual walk in the woods.
I spent my free hours in my adolescence absorbed in books. It was my one of the two escapes I had to a better place than the one I called home. My family was quite dysfunctional, and I’ve shared my story in parts on this blog. But this post is about how I began to develop some resistance to the destructive behaviors of my childhood home.
Almost every Saturday I’d walk four blocks to the library, grab a stack of books, bring them home, and escape to worlds created in my imagination. Things could get pretty awful at home, but as long as I had a book I had a place I could go that was free of the chaos for a little while.
Many times before I went home, I walked two blocks beyond the library to the forest preserve behind it, and immerse myself in the calming sounds and sights of Nature before I went home.
This time, I took my car and watched the odometer tick by. It was about 1.8 miles from my home to the forest.
I didn’t realize how much I walked back then and how grateful I should have been to have a library and a forest preserve within walking distance.. To my young legs, the trip wasn’t far at all, to my young mind, just far enough away from home to breathe. It was a salve for my hurting soul.
I wonder what was on my mind as I traveled this road on foot back then. I’m not sure that I had many thoughts, perhaps just grateful for the sounds of the forest, and the silenced voices of criticism I had in my head.
There used to be an old picnic table in the clearing. Sometimes I brought my books, and sometimes a journal, though after my sister read and threw it into our fireplace, I stopped keeping a journal and spilled open in letters to my friends instead.
Sometimes I’d walk further into the forest, to explore. I didn’t go very far into it when I was younger, not quite sure I wanted to be deep in the woods all alone. My favorite author of the time was Stephen King, and his works of horror filled my imagination which was already overactive.
But on the day I returned as a fully grown adult, I felt no fear, and more than mild curiosity. So I took my camera to take some photos, like this one of the knocked down tree. Something about it makes me smile.
I’d forgotten there was a creek below the path I was on.
And I had no idea how far the small footpath went on, but it seemed to have gone fairly deep into the forest.
The narrow path went really deep into the woods. When I was there, this time, I did feel this serene peace. I felt safe there, enveloped on all sides by greenery and quiet.
I didn’t have time to follow the path for too long, because I had to get home to pick my daughters up from school. On the way back, I took a picture of my mother’s old catering and delicatessen business, which was situated right across the street from the library.
It was a strange sensation to be back to where I spent so much of my adolescence and young adulthood. Working in the family business was mostly okay but sometimes dreadful. I was a decent server, and had great hospitality and enjoyed talking to people, but my mother could be quite rude to the patrons behind their backs which made it tense. Sometimes, our arguments carried over my work hours, which made work unbearable at times, until the day I exploded. There’s a story in that…but that will have to be another time.
I kind of feel bad for my daughters. We do have a local park nearby, in walking distance. But we have no library and no forest preserve to escape to. I do take them to the library whenever they ask and I do take them to the forest and other places to go hiking as often as we can, but I wonder where they will escape to on their own. I’m not sure. I hope we’ll move out closer to the country when they are a little older…