It was perfect, the place I found. I found it when I was young and ignorant and much of my knowledge of the "real world" outside of my hours in school and playdates was based on the Disney princess movies where the prince always swept the girl off her feet. I found it when I was running away from my mother to avoid a confrontation over that broken glass platter that had sounded like a million buildings falling as I dropped it to the hardwood floor of our dining room. Dad, or Daddy as I called him then, had cleaned up the cut I got and told me to play outside while he dealt with my mother. Being that the platter was from his mother-in-law he never liked it very much, and was quite happy to see it go.
Never before that day had I wondered beyond my backyard, into the wooded area my parents had so warned me against. That day I had to go, though, I just had to. When I heard my mother's car door close it was like I had been injected with a lethal shot of pure fear and adrenaline. It was the beginning of my tendency to choose flight over fight.
I ran for what seemed like hours, but it was only ten minutes. I had never known heaven was only a ten minute sprint from my home. The way the old trees rose so high up that it seemed like they were connected with the clouds. The creek, a few feet across and just shallow enough for me to see the sediment and rocks on the bottom, looked like cool, still glass that was impossible to shatter. My favorite spot, though, was where the roots of the tree closest to the creek rose up a little, creating a perfect spot to sit and watch the serene water. That day I took my first seat in that spot.
Not until the third time I wandered off there did I meet him, and he immediately accused me of invading his territory, being that most of his knowledge of the "real world" at that point came from pirate movies. I recognized him as the boy a few houses down the street that was always riding his bike or walking around with his parents. He could never get enough fresh air, he claimed when we were older and he still hardly spent any of his time indoors.
Our animosity toward each other began to subside over the months as we began to realize one loved this spot by the creek just as much as the other. The next few years in school we were in the same class and began to spend more time together, both at the creek and away from it.
As time went on, both he and the creek came to represent the same thing to me: calmness, peacefulness, and someplace to go for comfort. We never brought anyone to the creek, no matter how special they might have been to us. We both had quite a few people that were special to us in high school, especially him, being that he was very athletic and all. Our schedules became increasingly stressful each year, and time at the creek became rare, but long ago we had realized the creek was really us, for each other. God forbid we should have ever said it out loud, though.
He finally did say it, but he was never good with timing except when it came to swinging a bat. The month of graduation was all smiles and tears of joy, until my heart was ripped out by the person I had thought was the most special of them all. It happened just a week before the ceremony. I pushed it out of my mind for that week so no one, including myself, would worry too much over it and distract from this happy time of accomplishment. He saw through it, however, like looking through the water of the creek, which was where I went after the graduation, still in my cap and gown.
He found me without anyone asking him to go looking for me. I could not bring myself to look at his knowing face as he reached for my hand. He made me look at him before he started talking, before he told me everything and poured out his heart without a damn about his manliness. I could not take it, though, not then. These are the moments you regret walking away from for the rest of your life.
I went to college a few states away from home, only coming back for the holidays. And for the most part, I was happy. Until I found more special people that caused me to feel sick to my stomach with phoniness when I was in their arms and talking to them as if they really were special to me.
A good friend of mine, of ours, from high school died in a car crash the summer going into my senior year. I saw him there, at the service. He looked good to everyone else, but when he looked me in the eyes I saw the tell-tale signs that he had cried, over this loss and others. Sitting there, in the same room as him, for so long, on such a sorrowful occasions, knowing he had cried, sent me overboard. For the first time in three years I went to the creek.
I waited subconsciously for him to come, just like I had done on the day of graduation. I waited because he was my solace, the one I had always turned to and would always want to turn to. I waited because I wanted to feel the warmth of his hand in mine that sent a tingle up my arm and caused me to see the world more clearly. I waited because you wait for the ones you love in the places only you two know about.
But sometimes they do not come to you.