There's an old patch of land about a mile off the eastern bank of the Hudson, just off of Maple Hill Road. It used to be a collection of corn fields, but they could be growing just about anything in that kind of soil. A collection of tree-filled ravines slashes across the landscape, leaving the fields disconnected if you don't know the way through the undergrowth. I know the way. I grew up climbing trees miles back from the road, throwing rocks at other rocks, and eating blackberries off the massive collection of vines that dripped off the maple trees. I spent a summer cleaning forgotten leaves out of a thicket, and spent every day hiding in the shade. There was a small pond a bit farther back that I could ride to on my bike, and I would try my hardest to catch every fish at least once.
During a trip home a few years back, I stopped with my younger brother to take a look, afraid to drive the car back any farther than it already was. It doesn't belong to us anymore. My grandparents passed away, and my father sold the homestead. For the first time in 150 years, our family doesn't have the title to this land. Every time I think about it, my stomach sinks. This was supposed to be the place our grandchildren would learn how to catch every fish and climb every tree.
I want to go back, but I've grown enough to know there is no way I can go back to the way it was. My days of climbing trees and eating wild blackberries are over, and I can understand that. Instead, I want to go back there and build a house. Maybe not one like my grandparents had, but one that would lay on the same land, surrounded by the same trees, and sitting under the same dark, cold skies. It sounds silly, but I want to do it because I'm supposed to do it. My family is supposed to live between tree-filled ravines and corn fields. My family is supposed to live about a mile off the eastern bank of the Hudson, just off of Maple Hill Road.
It's the one thing I've spent my life running from. It's the one thing that I have to do.