It is where it all began…. down the gravel road, past the mail box to the left, turn the corner, over the little bridge and move to the right and there it stood in the vast expanse of my imagination. Under the tall buckeye tree with pine cones crunching under my feet and through the secret passage that was just a sliver of a barbed wire fence broken at the edge, to the creek and wandering forest beyond. And once we crept past the secret passageway we became something more than just a few boys, a girl and a dog. We became indians and cowboys, princesses and tigers. We became the story of history itself, the hero, the enraptured captain on a ship in dangerous waters and the exotic queen of the jungle.
Beyond the bridge, past the buck eyes, into the secret passageway we went (as children are apt to do in those times) secretly in search of gold and treasure. It was always the five of us, Charlie, Chris, Adrian and I with our dog Charlie. We were the most daring and adventurous of the mob of young grandchildren at that time. They with their swords (sticks or paper towel rolls) and I with my secret magic and we would stay hours in the world where the creek bed laughed at our whimsicality and the holly and thorns dared our escape. I think that is where it all began. Where I became the mother of the lost boys.
I can still hear my own mother call from far up the gravel road, “Amanda! Where are you!?” I would rush out with tangles all about me and cry, “I am here mother! I was being rescued!” “Rescued!?” she would say, “Yes rescued! I am the princess and they were out to hunt me!” I would exclaim.
And my mother, to whom would stand up on the deck looking down at me with my hair all a muss and my clothes sticking with thorns and random otherness from the forest, would shake her head and call me home with the lost boys tagging along behind me.
It would be years before my feet became to delicate to step on the pine cones or walk across the slippery slime and rocks of the creek bed. Years before i became too soft to rush through the trees with the branches tugging at my hair and the autumn crushed leaves sticking to my clothes. It would be years before I realized that I was no longer small enough to fit through the secret passageway and into the forgotten world. But in one form or another, whether it be sake of god or fate or life, my lost boys still are there to rescue me from the dangerous minions of the world (even though they are not the same lost boys of my childhood). Always apt to cut them down with their swords (which are not so unlike the sticks and paper towel rolls of the older days). Always there to follow me home when duties call and responsibilities lay waiting.
“Amanda! Where are you!?”
…. I am here. right here.