Skating Away In My Mind

I've often heard people say that one can never go back home.  There are songs written about it and poems but I believe that home is always with you no matter where you are.  It's a state of mind.
When I was a little girl, I grew up in The Bronx, New York.

James Monroe Projects.  I lived in this building on the right on the fifth floor but facing the other side.
I have so many wonderful memories living here, and some scary ones as well.  But mostly memories of happy times, holdays, sharing with neighbors and friends.  Here is where it all began, where I met my best friends for life, where I had my first kiss, picked up by my first date, photographed the day of my prom and finally, the day of my wedding.  This home, prepared me to become the person I am today.
I remember growing up and looking out my bedroom window constantly, wondering how my life would some day be.  Never dreaming that I would have my own home away from the only home I knew, and actually have land and a barn?  Crazy huh.
Was obsessed with Amy Grant and her life, growing up on a farm outside of Nashville TNN.  I wondered what it would be like living away from the Bronx.
Life is strange, and unpredictable.
Here I am, 46 years old, still staring out windows.  My scenery is different now.  My concerns, needs and wishes have all changed.  And life goes on.
I lost my father almost 2 years ago.  My mom has grown older, her mind is not well and it can be difficult.  I think of that young girl, without a care in the world, wondering, thinking, worrying.  And I laugh to think of what I thought was important and worrisome back then.
I look in the mirror and still see her or a glimpse of her, still looking out.  Still wishing, wondering, dreaming, worrying.
There is a song, called The river.  I've often mentioned to people how that song always tugs at my heartstrings.  Don't know why, it's a strange song, but I always listen to it around christmas time.  Joni Mitchel sings about wanting to skate away on that river.   I have often fantasized about doing that very thing.  And then I think about when I was twelve.   The next town over from where I live has a small lake called Lake Afton.
This is an actual photo of it.  There is a charming little Starbucks next to it where my older son got his first job as a Barista there.  Well when the lake freezes my the lake is immediately filled with skaters, mostly guys playing hockey.  My sons have been on that ice a few times.  It's absolutely beautiful.  I feel so blessed that my sons have experienced beauty like this and experiences like skating on a frozen lake.  As I child I watched scenes like that in movies.  I never imagined I would live near a place like that or even have the opportunity to ever do something like that.  But then I did.
When I was twelve I had an amazing experience that I have never forgotten.  
I had blogged about it last year but Thought I would repeat the story.  Hope you don't mind.

When I was around twelve my mom's friend, who had moved to the country (upstate NY) came down to the Bronx to take us for a trip to her house.  I lived in an apartment building at the time and was so excited.  The car ride was about an hour and me and her two daughters whom I can't for the life of me remember their names sat in the back of her old cross country station wagon and laughed and waved at cars that passed by. 
 When we got to her home it was nestled in the woods and the trees were magnificently covered with snow.  I think I had my mouth open for a few minutes looking at how beautiful everything was.  (Never ever dreaming that someday I would have a home nestled in the trees).
My mom and her went to the kitchen to have coffee and mom chat while the girls took me to the Lake.
They gave me extra scarves and asked me my shoe size and we were off.  It was a few minutes away from the house.  They had a lot of property and there was a lake nearby.  I had never seen something as beautiful.  The lake was mirror like, covered in ice.  It was sparkly and shimmery and I could almost see myself in it.  

Before I knew what was happening, the girls were already skating on the ice.  They had given me a pair of ice skates (which by the way when your from the city, they are foreign to you).  One of the girls came back and helped me lace them up.  Before I understood, I was on the ice being catapulted by my extra long crocheted scarf by one of the girls.  
Funny, I don't remember falling much and I must have because I don't know how to ice skate.  All I remember was laughing.  Laughing so hard that I probably tinkled a bit.  But when your twelve, that doesn't matter.  I don't remember realizing that the lake was deep, and the sun was strong.  I don't remember any feeling of trepidation about the ice and the probability of it cracking underneath my blades.  I just remember laughing.  No fear, no worries, no regrets.  Just pure joy! 
There was a moment when all you could hear was the sound of the skates, the blade connecting with the ice, all laughter, and sounds just distant and muffled in your head.  I can only describe it as a feeling of ultimate peace.   I've often recalled this experience to my mother and she's said "I can't believe you did that!  I would have never have let you do that if I knew you had been skating on a lake."
I remember the lake being huge, but then again at the age of 12 most places are huge.   I remember  the trees were leaning over parts of the lake, branches heavy with snow.  I was mesmerized.  How blessed was I to have had an experience like that.  It was a magical moment for a young girl who spent time looking out her bedroom window, wishing and dreaming.  I felt free, like Joni talks about skating away on that river.  When things get too stressful, I go there in my head.  How I wish I were her again.  To feel no fear.  To feel no worry, just joy.  I want to feel that joy again.  I want to loose the fear and find the peace that comes from that freedom.  

May you find that peace, that pure joy during this season of Advent and this Holiday season.  Thank you for your comments and for taking time to read my little hideaway.


Julie said...

Your words tug at my heart. I used to ice skate and it is such a sense of freedom to feel the wind on your face as you glide along the smooth surface of the ice.

My mother has memory loss...she really doesn't know I'm her daughter anymore but I am very lucky to still have my Dad. My two sons and wonderful husband bring me such joy. I love seeing your home and reading about your life. I feel we have so much in common...especially our love of Mary Carol.

God bless you.

kath said...

I just clicked over from Cote de Texas. Wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed this post. I grew up in the South Bronx (177th St.) I remember my mother taking my sister and I skating at Van Cortlandt Park in the winter, although not very often, so I related to your joy of being on skates. I also remember my family driving to "the country" (Westchester County) to visit relatives and the magic of being able to climb trees and eat plums right off of my uncles trees, pick flowers from their garden and see real deer along the parkway. I now live in the "real" upstate New York on 5 acres with a pond, and every single day I'm still awed by the fact that I get to live here. I still get excited at seeing deer and turkeys, eating strawberries that I grew myself and reveling in the nature all around me. So glad to see that someone else appreciates it all as much as I do.

Charlotte Des Fleurs said...

Hi Lisa, I, too, came over from Joni's post on Cote De Texas. Absolutely LOVE your home and property.

I grew up on an acre in Los Angeles's San Fernando Valley, as in "Valley Girls". We had just enough land to someonewhat block out our neighbors. However, you knew you lived in a city. In spite of the orange groves and walnut groves, there was still asphalt and city noises all around.

Some years later, when I married, we still lived in the "burbs" with just enough land for a small plot for veggies and a few fruit trees. Then, fate stepped in 4 times. First we found a lovely home with a small yard but with a gorgeous, unobstructed 180 degree view. The houses on either side were set back just enough that we did not see them from the inside of our home. It almost felt as if we had acres and acres of land.

Our second home was on a golf course - again found serendipitously when we needed to get into a gated community for safety's sake (a story for another time). The house was a beautiful 2story with a gracious curving staircase. Again, the lot was small but we were on a hill overlooking the golf course so it seemed as if we had a lot of land.

Our 3rd house was literally in response to a fervant prayer. That house was on a acre overlooking a beautiful valley filled with farms and orchards. It was so gorgeous that every morning my heart nearly burst with joy at the sight.

The home we live in now was also an accident or perhaps fate. We had looked at property in the area 10 years before but could not afford it. On top of that, there were no public schools close enough for our son to attend. He would have had to attend a private school which we also could not afford. Ten years later, on the day before we planned to meet with a contractor to sign up for a remodel on our house overlooking the beautiful farms and valley, we stumbled on a group of new homes being built in the area we could not afford way back when.

Instead of giving the contactor $40K to remodel our home, we put the $40K down as a deposit on the new house. Later when we checked the proerty records, we found that that was excatly the piece of property was had desired 10 years earlier! That was also the year of the 911 attack. Suddenly houses stopped selling and we were faced with the possibility that we would have 2 mortgages to pay. Our home actually sold between Christmas and New Year's of 2001 - a miracle in itself.

We have been here 11 years now. We have nearly 7 acres which overlook the oak-studded rolling hills above San Juan Capistrano in southern California. The house is a large, rambling French Country manse with high-pitched roofs and a stone turret. It is surrounded by Provence styled gardens - roses, lavendar, French Lilacs, French Alpine strawberries, and innumerable fragrant herbs for cooking. We, too, have every type of "critter" imaginable on our property - deer, rabbits (not enough coyotes), quail, ducks, eagles, and uncountable varieties of migratory birds.

My mother, who was a landscape designer, never lived long enough to our last two homes. However, I feel her approving presence when I see the beauty of the landscapes we have created out of nothing but decomposed granite and flat, flat dirt.

One never knows where life will take you, but if your heart is open and ready for the good things, it will always be a wonderful adventure.

Susan@besusan.com said...

Wow! What an extensive post! Congrats. I enjoyed every bit of it.

I love seeing your home in all seasons and reading your sentiments. The gardens are super beautiful and magical.

I love Cote de Texas as well and when time permits, check in now and then.

Your beautiful Bucks County farm house was the perfect spotlight!

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