Tuesday, November 21, 2023

The House my Stepfather Built

In that house I would learn all I know about being unhappy: which is a considerable amount, for such an improbably fortunate person. I learned to consume treats continually, while reading books about impossible elsewheres; such chores or duties assigned to me, I simply ignored. I was much alone, and awkward in company. I slipped away to roam the hills at night and watch the stars. I thought myself the smartest person in the world: nobody else read so much, nobody else thought so much. Someday, I would find my people and be happy and admired.

I thought myself very different from everybody, and I was actually, for the time, somewhat peculiar. But I just a generation ahead: pretty soon lots of people would be experiencing life as I did, and considering themselves very misused and maltreated, while living in luxury and performing not a single duty -- the generation that J.K. Rowling catered to so successfully. We were all just terribly special and misunderstood, and somewhere was the Hogwarts where everyone would realize our greatness. Certainly there was no point in adapting to or serving in this world. This was just a tedious waiting room.

And so much of my life was paltered away, kicking my heels in the waiting room, which was actually the real world and the only world I would ever know. The habits I learned in that house have poisoned me all my life. Nostalgia? No, none. I would not relive my childhood or youth on any inducement. It was a bad time, and it left me warped and enfeebled for life. 

It was actually a rather beautiful house, in a very beautiful setting, and I can at least say that I loved the hills and the sky. I knew the dirt roads and the trails intimately. I would like to live somewhere beautiful again, before I die, though it seems increasingly unlikely that I will. I'm glad I knew the night sky before it was littered with satellites, and glad that I learned black oaks by climbing them and griming my hands on their rugged pelts. That much of the lost world I do have in my blood.

Hush, now, and listen for the breeze that comes up at first light: watch for the bloody sun to spill over the hill crest and make the oaks into calligraphy against the pink sky. Not much longer now. There are not many threads to pick up, but I'll gather what I can.

1 comment:

Nimble said...

Taking the world for a waiting room sounds like a familiar mistake. As I watch my college-age kids navigate the world I realize how much power we each have that we don't use. Stating a goal and asking others for help with it can get you a long way. But most of the time most of us are bouncing off of the world and other humans. Clear thinking and being able to appreciate some moments are gifts.