There is a place I like to go. It’s just a park. Just a common, everyday park where little kids giggle on swings and slides and dogs freeze in mid-air when fetching sticks; but I like it there. It’s a place where dreams sit just at eye level, captured in the grasses grown too tall in the sun.
I used to go there when my now almost 12- year old boy was just a baby and play for hours, talking to people I barely knew about life and love, about everything we were and all we’d ever been. I was myself in that park, traipsing with bare feet. Wearing long, cool summer dresses that turned translucent in the sunlight.
Today I saw a mother and a baby sitting under the oak tree where I used to sit. The image was as familiar and ecstatic as a religious tableau. I felt like I had been transported back in time and was watching a barely held impression of myself, of a life long passed.
I cried in that park. When my mother found my sister with a mouth full of pills, when my dog I’d loved for fifteen years died shivering in my arms, when the house I’d worked so hard to buy was sold at auction in front of everyone in the street.
For the longest time I couldn’t go back to the place that allowed me to slip so easily back into being myself. It hurt. Like thinking of things that have gone for good. My life didn’t depend on seeing it every day, so I didn’t. But I missed it. It was a space, an empty space waiting to be filled.
I was invited to picnics in that park. To kids parties where they had those little cocktail sausages I love. And the fairy cakes with cream and strawberry jam. But always I said no. ‘I am just so busy,’ I said. ‘So terribly busy.’ I couldn’t go back to the place where it had been so easy to be myself, not when everything had changed.
But it’s funny when you’re brave enough to take that leap of faith and stand still under the tangy-scented camphor laurel trees, how being yourself just happens all over again. And it’s there in the mid-afternoon light, where scraps of sky tear in the treetops, that you begin the journey back to the place called home.
Breathtaking. From beginning to end.
oh selma,, this was breathtaking… absolutely breathtaking… i am speechless…..
and i just now noticed that the above comment says the same thing… but i can think of no more apt word to describe it…..
Beautiful, as always.
Yet, a bit unsettling. Yesterday evening, I was working on a post for my blog with almost the exact same title and about the same kind of feeling of place. You just did a much better job of it! 😉 Awesome. Maybe a day in the park is exactly what I need.
Wow. Eloquence escapes me. (Been that way all week.)
I shed a tear for you… and for me as well. Reminds me of all the things that greenspace has meant throughout my life.
“Being yourself” encompasses so much that is beyond words. So many splinters and shards of your life.
Coming to peace with all of them, being able to sit with their ghosts – that is a good good feeling. This post makes me have a feeling of – ahhhh – exhaling and peace.
BRITT – I’m glad I got it out. It was on my mind a bit. Whew!
PAISLEY – thank you so much. I value your comments so much because my breath is often taken away after reading your work. XX
KAREN – No. That is eerie. We are definitely on the same wavelength. Kindred spirits at opposite ends of the world.
NAT – oh, I’m with you on the tears. If I didn’t have those little patches of green to turn to, I’d be lost. And even though you might not visit them for a while – they never really leave you. We need that kind of solace, don’t you think?
NANNA – reconciling your ghosts is like balancing your spiritual chequebook. It’s out with the old and in with the new. I’m moving forward, baby. It’s a new day! XX
Another masterpiece that evoked tears of identification with you. I honestly believe you are a pure novel-style writer, so descriptive. You would have made Dickens proud of you.
Yes, I have heard for years how life tends to come full circle, how the mind of an old person is incredibly identical to that of an innocent, simplistic, observant infant.
The best things in life are indeed for free, gifts of nature. We can never afford to take them for granted. No matter how much time we’ve wasted over the years worrying about “adult affairs,” we always have the option of living a life of joy and peace, moment by moment.
Thank you, Selma. Seems you’ve done it. Again. Written a bold, big(it’s about a lifetime of dreams, the way I see it), but intimate and tender(your own dreams fulfilled, wishes granted, and yes, hopes dashed, too) story–
I’ll have to go back & “catch up” here at your Blog–my last reading of you was your May-Day entry, I think…
I’m headed now, to read all your entries since then!
I believe it was someone from Yorkshire (planner? architect?) who said everyone should be within walking distance of a park.
We have one … but, just grass, a climbing frame and a few swings. I keep saying the Council ought to make it a place to walk in, rather than walk through … but the self-impotant snollygosters never seem to take any notice.
But, some of the parks in Salisbury … especially Victoria Park … I’d recommend to anyone.
GLENN – Wow, to make any mention of me and one of my idols, Dickens in the same breath – I am blown away. You are extremely kind to say so. Thank you.
LISA – I really appreciate your constant feedback. XX
TRAVELRAT – I think being able to get to some form of green space is very important. Councils never seem to get it right, do they?
>>Councils never seem to get it right, do they?<<
This particular park … when the man sold his farm, where our estate is now, to the builders, he sold all but one field. This, he GAVE to the Council, with the proviso that it should never be built upon. And, for the last 25 years, the Council have done damn-all to it, except run a gang-mower over it once a month, and fine people for letting their dogs dump on it.
(The play equipment I mentioned was donated, and is maitained, by a local businessman)
So touching Selma. Your beautiful words truly struck a chord this morning.
I spent yesterday in the park, it was the 1st anniversary of my mom’s passing. I had a beautiful day with her spirit very close by. I also had a conversation with a new mother at the park and I believe that was meant to be as well. She seemed to need encouragement, feeling overwhelmed by the new responsibilities of motherhood. All becomes clear if we just allow things to unfold, it seems.
That is one beautiful, heart-felt, word-painting in which I wandered about, commiserated with a heart-broken girl whose beloved dog-companion had died, enjoyed watching the dogs romp about and then exited back into a painting of my own making.
TRAVELRAT – what a waste. Those kinds of situations are very frustrating.
GERALDINE – I am so sorry about your Mum. I am glad you felt her spirit close by. You having the conversation with the new mother was like the whole thing coming full circle. It is amazing how letting things unfold reveals so much. XX
MARY – so nice to hear from you. What lovely feedback. Thank you.
This is so achingly poignant and resonant. So universal the journey, and yet clearly uniquely yours – delicately rendered like glazing on canvas. The two lines: “a place where dreams sit just at eye level” and “where scraps of sky tear in the treetops” are so fresh and evoke such a beautiful sense of yearning.
Thanks for offering something so lovely, so real, so filled with wisdom and blessings.
KAYT – you have made my day by saying that. Totally. Thank you.
Oh. You make me ache for you sometimes, Selma. I hope you spend many more happy days in that park recapturing all the really good memories and allowing the painful ones to recede.
I have a park across the road from where I live. Yet I have never managed to walk in there by myself. Some terrible fear keeps me just this side of the road where I’m safe. Maybe it’s time to go for a walk.
DAOINE – I feel you are quite intuitive. Maybe you’re right not to go into that park. You are so ‘simpatica’. Thank you.