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The story of the influence of my Grand-parents' lakefront plot on my childhood.
I'm 18 years old and wrote this story for my Creative Writing class in my senior year.
A child’s imagination is their salvation. Their salvation from growing up too fast, from living in the real world when the dream one is so much better, and from experiencing things that they’ll not understand until they’re older. A strong sense of creativity when you’re a child will send you flying through the clouds with a fairy named Flitty while your parents argue in the next room. Your mind can place you in a race car, zooming around the track and winning the race for once, when you’re having trouble sleeping. It’s the most powerful and useful tool that we’re given, and as a child, the fact that we can’t often control it is a blessing.
As a five-year-old with four older siblings that had more in common with each other than with me, and a set of parents that were habitually working for the betterment of the family, my creative mind had to find some sort of haven to reside in. Many times that sanctuary could be somewhere as simple or biodegradable as a cardboard box, or a paper cup. I could be a beggar on the street living in my refrigerator-box home, or I could be a pilot guiding my plane through the clouds and hitting turbulence every few minutes. It could be my birthday and I could sing the well-known and well-worn tune to myself while I wore my paper-cup party hat and blew out my imaginary candles. With an imagination and an agenda like mine, there were endless possibilities.
Oftentimes my facility was a little more alive, however. There were places that held memories from a family less involved in their own lives and more focused on each other that I could escape to when the opportunity presented itself. Echo Lake was my favorite. It was the plot that my grandparents owned on the lake front, right near the dock. It was my world amongst the clouds, my heaven, my haven.
Cherry trees blossomed in the spring there, with the darkest, sweetest, plumpest cherries. Mountains surpassed that backdrop, and when the sun rose between the peaks, the water twinkled, like a thousand fairies had risen above it and sprinkled their magical dust all over. There were trees all around the lake, lining the shore like some forbidden forest, and my dad hung a tire swing from the biggest pine on our plot.
The trailer that my grandparents owned was long, but not too wide. The stairs leading up to it were wooden—rickety—from the early seventies, and there were little baby weeds growing through the cracks in them. I always liked to explore the inside of the trailer, completely intrigued and awed by the little kitchen and foldable beds and tables—it was a kind of treasure to me.
Every place and every family have their own smell. Some smell of laundry and lemons, others of Christmas candles and cinnamon, others of Indian curry and cedar, and others of rain and clovers. The trailer smelled of Grandma’s perfume and humidity, and the air at Echo Lake was distinct; like memories and campfires.
Each summer we built huge bonfires to share with the neighbors—we roasted marshmallows and made cherry s’mores, and Daddy grilled us little wieners to put in with our beans. We shared food, stories, laughter, memories, games, and philosophies by those fires. One could say that Echo Lake was like biding time from reality—pushing the pause button on the real world and exploring what happens behind the scenes.
My family became authentic at the lake. Sure, in the real world we played all the parts of the all-American family, but in that little trailer, I could swear my family loved each other more. We got along, tried new things, collaborated our schedules so that we could all be included in every activity. The boys would wrestle on the lawn out front, but it was play-fighting, horseplay—there were no names called or punches thrown, only grass stains and ripped t-shirts. My sister and I used to tell stories, mostly make-believe, and she would always laugh at how bizarre I could be. She would tell me that a creative mind is what makes the most interesting writer—my dreams were born there.
It would be difficult to forget such a place as Echo Lake—my escape from the oftentimes overwhelming brutality of the real world. To me, a young child with an impressionable mind, the good of the lake erased almost all of truth’s damages so that eventually Echo Lake became my truth. Echo Lake became what I would try to remember as the real world, my real childhood, in place of my brother’s attempted suicide, the sound of my parents’ raised voices as they shouted about our financial state, and the look of complete despair in my sister’s eyes as her boyfriend of six years told her he no longer loved her. My mind replaced these memories with our berry-picking contests, the sound of the most beautiful swans as they flew high above the water, and the laughter in my mother’s eyes when we told our ridiculous jokes into the smoke that rose above the seasonal bonfire.
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"You are so lucky to have had the best memories of your child hood. Reading your work was beautiful, where does one see lemon trees etc in this heavily polluted Britain. (I am in my 50's and l still remember my granfathers house - l haven'[t see another house like it - it was beautiful and tree lined where we spend our summer days playing. Beautiful memories are impended in the heart." -- Amy, Hayes, UK.
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© 2006 Adele Staufer
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