Saturday, August 27, 2016

When the Past and Present Meet

It is strangely wonderful to return to a place from my youth…twenty years later. With five of my own children; two the ages I was when I lived there. To see the same familiar sights with adult eyes but remember the feelings and impressions I had as a teenager.

To drive through Sandwich, past the Grist Mill, turning slowly. A steady churn. The white steepled church gleams in the late afternoon light.  We stop across the street from the black antique carriage forever parked in front of the Daniel Webster Inn. The weathered gray-shingled houses nestle cozily in their yards. Deep purple hydrangeas drip from window boxes.

We drive to my old house and park the car along Shaker House Rd. It is evening, and the neighborhood windows glow from inside lights. Some windows hold twinkling candles. Ah the charm of the Cape! 

We pick our way across the grass to the narrow pathway onto the creaky dock. My children sit at the end of the dock…the very dock I visited regularly, during Sunday afternoon family walks or solo evening escapes. Shawme pond is still calm. The same calm I remember from my youth. The trees still hide any sign of residence. A place to reflect. A thinking place. Tiny fish – the size of my finger – jump, sending ripples across the grey surface.

If I would have known as a teenager what life had in store for me, I would have worried less. I would have cried less. The loneliness of teenagerhood would have been bearable. The pond that provided solace still speaks to me.

There is a single moment of stillness. My children look at the same view I had looked at countless times. And time stops. Or overlaps. Or stutters somehow. My two selves meet--the worried teenager with dreams and the adult who now sees her five children sitting there. This is joy. 

And then my son pulls out his giant squirt gun. How did he slip that past me when we were getting out of the car? The quiet erupts with squeals as he shoots a stream of pond water and threatens his sisters.  

This too, is joy.