I remember pulling out of the campground, the brown Nissan bumping off the one-lane road onto the two-lane highway, the Battle Run Campground sign getting smaller behind us as we swept through the leaves beginning to scatter on the road.
Up ahead was an apartment that used to be a post office, a mail slot between mine and my sister’s rooms, a rope swing in the back yard, a general store across the street, a horse a mile up the road to visit, a new friend, a new world, a new me.
Behind was summer, sweet honeysuckle and warm sand, lapping water so familiar and soothing, smoke rising, people laughing, dead spots of grass in rings where the tents were. Bike tracks cut into dried mud, extra firewood left in plain sight in case any other scavengers needed to find it, blood spots on the bathroom floor from my sister’s run-in with a bike spoke. Behind were brief friendships, lasting lessons, a separate world, a different me.
Every move was bittersweet, the first half of the trip spent looking back, distant, quiet, melancholy, breathing the air as the scents there changed, grew unfamiliar, drew me away from the most recent version of everything I knew. The second half, looking forward, giggling, nervous, excited, planning new stories, new adventures. Ready for change.
This time next week, Body of Water will be here and that changes things. Today I’m looking back at Livvie Owen Lived Here, thinking of pet mice and pet cats and weathered porch boards and trailer vents and heavy quilts and fish lamps. But long about Friday, it’s going to sink in that Ember’s coming, with her bouncy dog and her Tarot cards and her yellow sweatpants and her spells and her ashes and her hopes and her adventures and her story.
See you when we get there.