Monday, July 16, 2012

playing house, part two

When someone bought the lot with the mountain on it, the dirt was carted away somewhere. There was a smaller mountain further down the street where we played, but it wasn't the same. One day, when i was eight or nine, i was at the smaller mountain and i made a strange discovery. There was a cedar log -- really almost a whole tree -- abandoned in the dirt. There were no large trees for miles around, and this was not fresh. The branches and roots had been stripped away long since, and the trunk was weathered and dry. It had not been there before, but it had appeared that day, quite inexplicably. I decided that i needed to have it, and i dragged it all the way back to our house, a good two or three blocks.

We had a dirt pile in our back yard (you know, until i wrote this all out, i had no idea how many large piles of dirt were integral parts of my childhood. I really was Tom Sawyer.), left over from when we had put in our pool. It was an above-ground pool, but it was necessary to dig out a small foundation to protect it from tornadoes and windstorms and vigorous swimming. Anyway, with the disappearance of the mountain, the dirt pile in the back yard became more important to us. Though it was nowhere near as large as the dirt pile down the street, it was a lot closer. 

I brought the tree to this pile and set it up in the "house" i had carved into one side. Pieces of the aforementioned playhouse were sometimes integrated into this particular house. My mom hated the dirt pile and often wanted us to move the dirt to the garden, where it could be spread around and used and stop being an eyesore next to the deck. But we loved it and couldn't stand the thought of losing our favorite outside play space.

Somewhere around this same time, my grandparents had a rotting tree in their back yard. Afraid of it falling and breaking the swingset or the shed or the house, or even falling into the neighbor's yard, my grandfather cut it down preemptively. It was a big job and took some time to complete. Step one was piling the branches and logs into a huge stack, easily as tall as a house. While step two was formulating, i began examining the beaver dam-like pile in the yard and discovered that the branches had naturally formed a hollow space in the center. With some judicious rearranging of sticks and wriggling of my childish frame, i managed to crawl inside.

This was my house for what felt like weeks, but was probably no more than ten days. One day, i went to my grandparents' house to discover that my grandfather had fed all of the wood into a mulcher. My home was dissolved. There were other log homes from other fallen trees, but there was never another beaver dam.

Yesterday, my boyfriend asked me to tell him a story. I was bored at work and he was bored at home and we were on Facebook chat, and i started telling him stories about all of my childhood "houses". When i told him about my beaver dam and how sad i was at its loss, he said, "That's because it wasn't our house. If you still had your house there today, we wouldn't be able to live together. You would have had a happy little life by yourself in the beaver dam-esque abode, and never have come to Quincy to meet me . . . and we would never have loved each other."

"I would always love you," i replied. "I just wouldn't know that it was you."

I've been waiting a long time for him.

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