Memory Minefield

Be careful where you step.

There are memory mines planted everywhere back in Connecticut.

Initially, I am always overcome with melancholy whenever I visit.  Sometimes the force of memory is so strong that it literally takes my breath away.  It is like an emotional explosion that leaves me stunned for a moment.

With every step I take and every turn of the wheel I make (as I am always driving), I navigate through the memory minefield that is our hometown.

As I go up the hill, I pass the skating club where Katie first landed an Axel and Jackie consumed gallons of hot chocolate.  Further ahead is the elementary school where my two little girls with big hair bows entered Nursery carrying tote bags that were half the size of their post-toddler bodies.

I walk at the beach and remember lazy days spread out on a blanket watching Katie do cartwheels in the surf while Jackie ate fistfuls of sand.  In my backyard, I look out past the now inert tire swing where both girls spent endless afternoons begging to be pushed higher…higher…higher!

I drive down the main street in our Norman Rockwellian village and remember both girls dressed in bight princess costumes as they pushed beloved baby dolls in plastic strollers on our way to do local errands.  I pass the ice cream shop that was impetus for an evening bike ride or panacea for any small injury.

I drive along the dreaded Post Road and glance at the fields where both girls learned to play lacrosse, and I see them running with sticks cradled high and ponytails flying.  Further ahead is an old stone church where I photographed both girls in sweet Lily pinafores sitting in a field of vibrant crocuses just before Easter.

Nowhere is safe.  Every step is a “trigger”.  It is as if time stands still for a moment when I get locked in a memory.  And then I remember that time always marches on.

Today Jackie is 17 years old.

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One week ago, Katie graduated from high school.

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I feel like the streets of London provide a kind of haven. I  have a spring in my step knowing that there is no memory mine waiting to detonate.  There is no “past” here, only the present.

With each step I look forward, never back.

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