I don't want to be one of those small-town writers talkin' about nature as if it's the pinnacle of beauty and perfect. 'Cause it's not. Nature is not, nor is it supposed to be, perfect. I don't want to title a poem "A Walk by the River" and descibe everything in painfully mundane language and minute detail. No. I don't go for walks at the river to gaze around and paint a mere portrait. I walk down here over the rocks and ankle-deep sand because I'm pissed off and down here I'll be overcome by ideas for a brand-new story and forget everything anyone ever said to me.
I love it here but only when I'm all alone. The presence of anyone else turns it into some playground or just scenery. I avoid the other people, the hippies around the campfire singing and the rosy-faced women walking giant dogs. I try to carve my own path through the sand, trying to find a new place with no footprints. The footprints are everywhere, though, and it makes me sad that this place makes everyone feel the same. Everyone is calmed when they walk this way, everyone feels at peace. It makes me feel like this place is cheating on me with everyone that passes through. Why can't it be just mine? Why'd they have to build a brand-new high-traffic bridge when the old plank worked just fine for me?
This is the kind of place I would have look for fairies ten years ago. I bet you anything they're still here; I should look for them, but that's something I always say but never take the time to do. Half a lifetime ago I would have been awed to pieces over this place. I would have been tingling in excitement thinking about all the creatures and adventures waiting for me in the trees, down on the banks of the stream I would have called a "beck." The narrow path weaving along the side of the dike would have been holy to me, but now my silver moonboots plod along it like it's only a man-made trail.
This place, though, I can still feel magic here. Maybe it's a different kind but I know it's here. I can feel it with the sixth sense I learned from reading books written when other people recognized it, too. Emily of New Moon taught me this but the feeling is all my own now. This grassy bank I crossed the beck to get to has magic growing in the very soil, but sitting down I betray myself by thinking that I ought to bring him here.
This will be my place. I'll come here alone and I'll bring him when I'm ready, when he's ready. For now I'll go home and write a poem about it and it won't come close to describing it, and that will be it. I'll think back on this and remember the feeling of being watched by tiny eyes behind the leaves. When the weather is warm I'll climb off the bank and into the water. I'll bring a book and read here, curling up in the lush grass.
And someday I will bring him here, and he'll understand. We'll sleep here in the summer and hold our breaths for the sounds of tiny flutes and laughter, and we'll remind each other not to step in toadstool circles. He won't do it because he likes me, but I won't do it because I believe.
That's the difference between the two of us. He's grown up with the rest of the world, but I still want to be this little girl with tangled hair chasing fairies in the bushes. He's finding his place in the world when I want to find my whole world in one place. It's hard to think about that place not including him.
But I have to go home sometime and I know this feeling's going to fade into oblivion. I'm just one in billions, but maybe by taking charge of my own life I can spend the time I've got the way I want.
Even just chasing fairies.