(painting by kind permission of WILD)
For weeks now I have been walking the reverse roads of my childhood. The road I take walking to work is actually the road I used when I went to school. Only in reverse! Instead of walking up to my school, I walk to my “job” and never get home.
My place of work is de facto just a few hundred meters from my old home here. I left this town with my parents 37 years ago. Nine months ago, I came back here. With my own kids and the one parent left, my dad is buried up high on a hill with the view over my/our old homes there, straight down into the beautiful Saronic Gulf (I am glad you did not have to see all this)!
Every morning walking down the beautifully tree covered sidewalk towards work, I think about what it was like then, as a teenager. I also think about what it ‘s like now, sometimes the two are confused and the closer I get to work, the more dread I feel. Maybe it was all a sign, that I should have paid attention to.
Too much of the past, the neighborhood along the side of the road has drastically changed of course. There used to be huge tulip fields, right where the company is located. As a child I often nicked a few tulips there for my mom. Looking out the third floor window of our offices(I can’t bear to look out) – I can just make out the street corner, through the trees that have grown into giants, where my brother(named after the saint of travelers – how ironic) crossed the street, and was run over by a speeding drunk driver in broad day light. 41 years ago…he never saw his 11th birthday and my dad got fined in court when that idiot was sentenced. 9 months without a license and some measly fine to the city. My dad shouted into the court room: If I ever see your sorry ass walking on the street, I am heading straight for you, if that is all a death of a child is worth.
I believe my dad paid more than that sorry son of a b, who got stopped by the police just a couple of months later-driving without a license and drunk again!
Those were terrible times, and I remember them well, too well sometimes, when I think back to seeing my brothers’ face in the white child coffin, a sleeping angel…not to mention the anguish it caused my parents and the long years it took them to come to terms with their loss.
I often wonder what life would have been like, if on that day, it would have been his friend who had gotten run over by the car…not that I wished it on him..but like picturing that things would have been different with an older brother around. Maybe things would have been otherwise altogether, maybe we would have never left and that is just something I cannot conceive my life like. To have lived here all my life and not have had all those wonderful, exciting and sometimes difficult and toward the end downright rotten times…after all, those years shaped and formed me, in fact even my brothers death must have played a major part in who I am today.
These are the things that go through my mind walking down that childhood road. Not always happy thoughts but I always remind myself that things could be a lot worse. There is always worse and so I am thankful for what I have, no matter that others have more or better, it’s wrong to orient yourself by the greener grass on the other side of the fence.
It means that I have to work harder and tend better, water and nurture more, what little of the green I have on my side.
4 weeks left in the neighborhood tomorrow!