I have a heavy black artist notebook with thick, clean white pages where I write ideas, beginnings, thoughts and such. Today I began drawing a map of my childhood home and surroundings, and it occurred to me,. .
"I think I might have been a late bloomer." The world was small for me, for a long time. In some ways it still is. I knew then and probably still know now, how to keep it that way when I need to. As a child I built a home in my closet with pillows and dixie cups of life saver flavored water, butter rum was my favorite. I liked to rock in the alcove with a good book. I built forts with my brother out of couch cushions and an autumn colored afghan. Even at school, one of my happiest memories was when my desk was scrunched over by the bookshelf with a friend or two, and a notebook to hide behind. Even as we got older I stayed nearby for my big college disaster, small college success, while my brother trekked back and forth across the country.
As a little girl, I rarely ventured from our yard lined with tall spruce and hedgerows on either side. Our backyard was home to enormous lilacs hugging our house, a swingset and a little red sandbox with a wavy, white roof, my grampa built. Out front a narrow sidewalk looped from a larger one along the road to our door and connected to our driveway. One of the two patches of green was punctuated by the single large maple tree. I spent my days peddaling around our circle of sidewalk, hanging upside down, or swinging on our purple pipe framed swingset, watching the clouds go by. As we got older, my brother headed for the woods behind us, across the neighbor's field, to ride dirtbike or head to his friend's house by way of the crow. I read, watched television, or enjoyed sun and swimming. I even climbed the maple tree. . .eventually. Still, my brother roamed, I held the fort.
In time I ventured by bicycle further and further till I realized I could bike to a friend's house across town, and still live. But it wasn't till I was in college or later, when I had one of those realizations, like when a child realizes how tiny the "giant" riding horse toy from her childhood really is. I took a walk one day, a familiar route down my street, where I biked often, but when I got to the place where the sidewalk ends, the place where I usually turn into a little maze of a neighborhood and backtrack home, I kept walking. It was no surprise where the road would lead. I had been that way too many times to count, by car, by schoolbus, even by bicycle to that friend across town. I had never walked it though, always imagining in my mind it would take the whole day to make the circle back to a main road, the far end of Main Street, then through town past the library, the grocery, Town Hall, the bank on the corner, over the bridge and back up the near end of my Street. So I walked that day and in just half an hour I reached the library, and in 15 more minutes I was home! I wondered to myself then, how did I live here all my life and never know the library, my town, was just a short walk away?
As I sit here now, I think of Roald Dahl's Matilda, and the litte girl who walked to the library at age 4? or 3? and I laugh at myself a little. I wonder if I just didn't have the need to escape like Matilda did, or perhaps it was just my way of keeping my world small for all those years? Maybe I was just a late bloomer. Far away lands are still not really on my to do list, though they are on my reading list. My brother is off on another adventure beginning a new career in a new state. I am still within 40-50 miles of Home. I am highly trained in early literacy, but still learning how to write. My town is small, but it really would take several hours to walk to the library from my house even by way of the crow. My children will never walk to school from home. Despite all this my world is bigger than before and I am reminded of this as I read the words of other teachers who write, and slicers who slice. I am reminded of this as I continue to grow, out into the world with you all. Thank you!