We ride backward from my teenage years to my childhood. The time it took to live these years, now feel as fleeting as the afternoon ride. The first inclination that I’m dropped so suddenly and unexpectedly into the past, is the tingle traveling up and down my spine when we drop into New Boston by way of Joe English Hill. We pass Molly Stark Lane, where my best high school friend spent her own childhood. Memories wash over me of the good times we had together, and the pranks we pulled on others. The faces of other friends flash across my minds viewing screen, and I am again feeling the joys and sorrows we experienced back then.
The experiences then were all so new; a time when emotions would swing from tender to raw. We take a turn and follow Mountain Road along the Uncanooics past where the old boyfriend used to live. The tender moments remembered are sweet; the first infatuation, the intensity of our first love. Yet the raw continues to be raw, when remembering how we first faced death and began to understand for the first time that nothing here is guaranteed. I wonder what kind of people those who left us early would have grown to become.
We pass the high school and ride toward my childhood home. The faces I am now remembering are younger and more innocent. Our carefree play along neighborhood streets flood back, and as we near the old neighborhood, I bid Andy to turn right on Plummer. I have not been here since my parents sold the house many years ago. We stop our bikes and sit examining every inch of this transformed home. It’s larger now and expanded; yet with the extra living space, comes a price. The pear tree and apple tree have been sacrificed. The three season porch which I so enjoyed on warm summer days no longer exists. Yet, I can still smell the apple blossoms, and hear the buzzing bees busy at the fruit that has dropped beneath the pear tree.
Andy comments that the railing at the front door looks original. And yes, so it is, and I am once again standing on the stoop with my siblings in our Easter outfits, having our photo taken. I know I am chuckling out loud now remembering those Easter hats that were so mandatory back in the day. One photo in particular comes to mind in which I am six years old. I don’t look too happy in this photo, as I want church and photo over with so as to dive into the Easter basket. Some priorities never change.
Yet our journey is not yet over. We visit Manchester’s West Side, my mother’s own childhood home and loop our way to Auburn and Chester and finally Derry where Dad spent his youth. We take a right on Wyman to where my Aunt and Uncle once lived. My brother lives here now, yet I haven’t been inside since he’s owned it, and it’s been many years since my feet have crossed the threshold. As I do, I’m a kid again here for a family gathering. My Aunts and Uncles voices like white noise in the background, as we kids get busy playing with cousins or walking out with fists full of chips or cookies. It is here that I first experience the concept of home movies. Uncle is holding a camera but I’m instructed to walk around as the end picture will be motion and not still. What a concept!
We head for home with the setting sun blinding us to our path, and we need to take great care for our safety. Yet despite the concentration it takes to ride westward into the setting sun, the analogy is not lost on me. I too am making my way to a sunset. We all are, it is the human condition. While the ride may seem happenstance to some, it does not feel so to me. There are reasons for events and I believe there are no coincidences. The young girl of so long ago is with me still. I wonder about her path and what lead her here to her present. Is she using all her gifts? Is she applying all her power? Is she giving away too much? Does she love fully, care deeply, forgive easily and make the most of her circumstance? I will be holding these thoughts in my mind. My journey continues and I still have time to bring the girl fully to the person she was meant to be.