"I don't have to believe it, and I think it's beautiful."

by Amy Turn Sharp


I am dreadfully tired of being outside.
It is hot and sticky and buggy and stop shuddering you outdoor folk- I like the outdoors.
I even paused to recognize Thoreau's birthday this week- I just grow weary of the boys demanding I spend all my time in the thick of summer.
I have tried to show them that turning the air on full blast and lounging in the house is fun.
They will have nothing to do with it.
They want to be mostly nude and outside.
I want to be in a cardi and drinking an iced coffee with my feet on wooden floors.

The truth is they play so freely and with such reckless abandon outside.
There is nothing more magical than to watch freedom like that.
In the house there are obstacles and rules and such, yet outside they seem to really hit a stride.
Outside they float and flicker.
Outside the happiness is really easier to see.
I am trying to love it more.
I did as a kid.
A country kid with whole summers spent in a creek.

I was thinking about the summer before middle school and we had a slumber party at my friend M's house. It was a normal garden variety nightmare for her parents involving rotary phones, pop music, and frozen training bras-
but in the early morning we decided to go for a hike.
M showed us a wooded area by her house where we had never ventured before
and it was like we went ape shit the moment we stepped into the tiny forest.

It was all magical and I had just read Bridge to Terabithia
and the world just stopped and these 6 girls played hard all day and made up a whole back story to the place and decided it was their place.

We were in love with the secret spot and play came naturally and imagination soared and nothing was the matter with any of us.
Nothing was wrong.
Nothing felt ridiculous to believe in there.
It was like we checked our insecurities and problems and suspicions of each other at the crisp leafy entrance to a forest that whispered.
To a forest that was dark like in the day.
To a forest that promised we could just be.

You know how things happen when yr young.
A few hours can be ten years and all of the sudden you believe something is real
and it is just so heartbreakingly beautiful that the world stops.

It was like that and we all believed that the summer
would save us from the impending hell of middle school.
But it didn't.
Time marched right on and tore us promptly apart from one another
like some sort of jacked up Stand By Me bullshit.

Some taking their rightful place at the head of the class, some discovering that you define the word slut for yrself in a small town, some smoking cigs in acid washed jean jackets down by the old catholic church, and some just really sad that childhood was pretty much gone.

I think if we had gone there everyday after school that things would have been different somehow for us. If we would have thrown our books across wooden tables and ran to a place where we could just be free then life would not have been so hard. I am not sure. I think it is just the way the world unfolds that middle school girls get surly and stomp and scream and invest more time in the mirror than in play. To turn against each other and let go. I guess there was nothing really that could of kept us in that forest. Perhaps we had not found it in time. But for some weeks in the mid 80's it was as right as rain. It was a place that I can only find in the play of my children now.
I can see it wash across their faces like a flush of red from the hot long day.

title post- Bridge to Terabithia 2007