Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Way I Were

Lately, I've been dusting off some old memories from my youthful days on the farm. My mind has not had an inclination to wander back there over the years, and I've been okay with that. It was a nice spread with two barns, and a vegetable garden spacious enough to share the bounty with the neighbors. There was some wonderful times on the farm, and I was very fortunate to have been brought up there, but I was not a farm boy. Not by a long shot.

My attempts at animal husbandry always ended badly. As far as 4-H goes, I was 4-F. The chickens penned behind the red barn quickly disappeared with nary a feather left to prove their existence. I bought a male and female sheep, with thoughts of spring lambs in mind. First the roaming dogs of the neighborhood crippled the woolly creatures, and then it wasn't long before the chase was over and the sheep also became a memory on the farm. The ponies were a mainstay, but too small for me to ride, and they liked to nip at me whenever I was within reach.

Even though my dad had a sickly childhood, he still managed to score high in the manly category. He enjoyed hunting and fishing, some winters traveling to northern Maine in search of the perfect buck to mount on the wall of his nonexistent den. I never enjoyed fishing or hunting. I was the namby pamby first son, who failed to show any interest in the wood shop, or the hunting beagles. Instead, I was at home curled up with my sketch pad, entertained by characters in my imagination.

Now I find myself taking mental forays back to the old homestead, walking through the dusty red barn across from the house; and the decaying lower barn, with the defunct hayloft, now home to barn swallows and mud wasps. I don't relish these trips down memory lane, because I end up in a dark cul-de-sac, with events reappearing that I thought I had buried for good.

Maybe my brain is proving to my mind that it can still go back and recreate those memories that I had stowed away in those neural packing crates oh-so-long ago. I also have a feeling that these unwanted memories are a sign of unfinished business, and the source of much sorrow and anger that I would be wise to expunge. What seems to work for me is to write it down. I just haven't shined the light into those dark corners of my youth yet. Time to start dredging.
Memories may be beautiful and yet
What's too painful to remember we simply choose to forget
So it's the laughter we will remember
Whenever we remember the way we were.

-- Lyrics by Alan and Marilyn Bergman

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