When I was ten my family moved to a small town called Glen Williams. We lived in a yellow house on main street with a tree house in the backyard and a basketball net in the front. There was a gravel shoulder, a church across the street, a pub at the bottom, a sand hill at the top, and we could hear the credit river from wherever we played.
My father set up his office and wood shop in the back room, and it was there, in the winters, that I first remember typing slowly on the keyboard writing stories in Word Perfect, about intergalactic time traveling pigs or canine detectives while he smoked, and considered cherry or dark walnut. It was small. It was cold, or hot, depending on the season. It had the tinny smell of empty bottles of Labatts. It was the rain in the spring, the leaves in the fall. It was pancakes and wood.
In the summertime the kids would swing from a rope and tire into the deep part of the river. Screaming and splashing and laughing and fighting. Being someone, who as a child was generally afraid to do pretty much anything that put me in harms way, I would watch my cousin jump from the highest and make the biggest splash. Then, he would have to come and rescue me from two feet of somewhat rapid water as I, hysterically screaming, thought I was being dragged into the depths of some strange ocean, to never see my family again, to be mourned by the world at large, and remembered as a kid with big ambitions. "Just stand up Ryan." Classic Craig.
We would ride our bikes through the school yard and into the park. We knew all the short cuts, knew all the houses, had crushes on the girls that scooped our ice cream at the general store, and knew who could jump the farthest off the swing because their name and distance was carved into the wooden frame around the sand.
We went home at dusk, had a fire in the backyard, sang songs with the neighbours and were terrified by my mothers ghost stories. The Glen, as it is known, is for me a place where I can go in my mind to feel the warmth of my youth. To see the lights around the baseball diamond, to watch the families line up at the concession stand, to run along side my brother as he slid into third. It is where we kissed under the bleachers. Where the whole town would come out and watch the film crews from the city dress up our corner of nostalgia into a glamorized version of the very same thing.
I had secret places I could go to along the riverbanks, I called them my "sanctuaries", where I would sit by the water, fish, draw, listen to a radio or watch the mother goose raise her chicks. I loved being alone as a child, I was always surrounded by my imagination, leading massive offensives, sword fighting laser toting aliens or racing against the clock.
It was where we fought and the only trouble that would come afterwards was from your mother.
The streetlights at night. The storm doors. It's all still there.
I drive by sometimes, to go stand in the cemetery at the top of the big hill over looking the valley. It's where my mother and I went after my father died. It's where they used to go when he was still alive.
We didn't live there long.
But to me it is eternal. It is the never fading lights of my childhood, the bats in the barnyard, the calm before the storm.