I started that day after the moonlight trek on little sleep but feeling new energy. It was as if during the night I had gone into battle and survived. A battle of competing versions of reality, my evolving version and that of the people who had been in those big old houses long before I was born, and during my childhood and adolescence. And it was as if during the night it had become absolutely clear what I had been doing and needed to do – not that I had felt at any time in the past year that the attacks I was making on family were not warranted.
Awake in late morning I looked out my room’s window past the aqua Mustang to the familiar field in front of White Wings. The remaining snow cover was melting. Brown grass was appearing.
Before Terri began bringing in retired farm animals this field had already been like a rocky grazing field – which I knew the people of the past would find classier than a tailored lawn. In my line of sight now was a bushy pine thing in the middle of the field, a pine thing that had many separate limbs growing up from the ground. I took from my very old briefcase my still new drawing pad, feeling that I was in the swing of something natural to me. I sketched the pine thing roughly with one of my still new drawing pencils.
I called Lauryn and we met in Littleton for coffee. This lively though so recently battered cousin I had driven up here to comfort or rescue. She told me now that last night she had forgotten to say she was doing therapy. When she got back from the Middle West, out of the shelter, she had found a new group of therapists had set up shop specializing in trauma right here in Littleton, this old time mill town, where she had gone to high school. I was suspicious since I had been hearing so many stories this past year of people going through years of therapy without every getting at family horrors. Therapists scared of their own stories. But she showed me a brochure that made it seem the new group in Littleton was cutting edge, with an approach that was perhaps not so unlike what we were doing in ACOA without therapists. I showed her the drawing. It was a Juniper, she said. And then she spoke again of how, now that the worst was over, she really wanted to continue her studies to become a landscape architect.
In the evening I went over to the house where her new boyfriend lived with his crusty old mother down by the rushing Amonoosic River, a timeless area of mystery with its weather beaten wooden buildings, some of them solid but some so flimsy you’d think the water could carry them away. Old houses. Old shuttered factories in the background. Old-time year-round people. A place of mystery. And in this place a warm old house where Lauryn had apparently found safety.
The TV was on and I believed it would always be on. The boyfriend was a friendly man who worked in construction in the summers and was on the ski patrol, based on Cannon Mountain, in the winter. He said that although he and Lauryn were in the same high school class they had been in such different circles that they hardly knew each other. She the popular girl of the time. And then she had gone away to college like so many in the class, to college or bigger places, and he had found himself one of the very few who never left. In the living room of his family house now she was running her fingers through his hair.
French Canadians down by the river in Littleton. A mill town. The summer people’s shopping town. A real town with its different place in the world. They told me his late father was a legendary figure who had made his living trucking booze in from Canada during prohibition. And the old rum runner’s wife, here dominating the living room even while she simply stared at the TV, she was as solid as the Old Man of the Mountains and nearly as craggy.