I shared a bedroom with my 2 older sisters when we were little. It was a 2-bedroom house, and even though it was a fairly large room, it wasn’t big enough for that many sisters, and definitely not big enough when a brother arrived. So, Mom and Dad added another bedroom and bath to split up the kids. My first pick would’ve been to get rid of some of the siblings, but okay, another bed/bath is good too.
Bro and I moved to the little bedroom in the front of the house. That was okay for a while, but our parents didn’t share my desire for a small family, and when Bro #2 was added, I was kicked back to the big room with my sisters. We were all bigger than the first time we were roommates, and had bigger needs. There wasn’t enough space. Well, there might’ve been if we were all perfectly neat and organized like Sis #1, but Sis #2 and I weren’t like that. #1 roped off her territory with yellow police tape, but that didn’t stop #2 and I from getting into her stuff. Trespass and punishment was a continual and epic war – with a little time out to feed the salamander, fish, turtles, and whatever else lived with us at the time.
None of us were very interested in staying in the house though. In the day, I had the woods, and the woods is a place of many rooms. In the most literal of ways, all of the animals have their own separate places. The deer would mat down the grasses behind the grapevines under the trees’ canopy, and the mice and others did the same thing in miniature. I could randomly choose 4 tree trunks as the corners of a pretend room and furnish it with sticks and rocks and carpet it with moss, but my favorite places were the hidden alcoves that let me sit in privacy with a view of the passing world. I watched the animals and I watched the older boys building tree forts. I left the boys flowers in their forts once in a while because they never decorated things pretty. Girls weren’t allowed, but nobody complained to me about my flower gifts.
Sometimes I laid on my back and watched the sky, deciphering the shapes of clouds and looking into the infinity of blue.
I knew people with large estates, or bedrooms they didn’t have to share, but did they really have more than me? Sometimes I think about how we all run around trying to earn more, buy more, more, more, more, and never really appreciate what’s free and what we already have. We don’t let children play in the woods by themselves anymore to imagine whatever they might imagine before they’re programmed into accepting other people’s dreams.
I guess I feel a bit sad today. A childhood friend’s mother passed away. She was part of my old life. She saw me skipping down the street with my bucket and fishing rod. She gave me cookies. I haven’t seen her for decades, but she is part of my mental Polaroid picture of childhood. I remember the smell of her perfume, and the click of her high heels, but now she isn’t here anymore. It feels like one of the bridges between now and childhood has fallen down like one of the boys’ forts.
I guess it all boils down to people matter, often in ways they never intended or noticed when they’re doing things. We carry parts of those people with us until we die, and those parts are passed on to the people we’ve affected along the way, so in a way, nobody ever really disappears. We’re all part of the infinity of blue.