We’re going to take a trip back in time now. To where it all began.
The Land. Growing up, anytime my parents mentioned the Land, they were referring to 22 acres of land they owned in southeast Tuscaloosa County, Alabama. It’s entirely wooded and does not have frontage with any roads. The closest border that isn’t trees is formed by the remains of the CSX railroad bed that ran through the area from the mid-1800s until the mid-1900s. It’s nothing but a narrow road to someone who doesn’t know, but if you look closely at the ground, you see that the rocks and gravel are made from coal and iron ore that fell from the train cars over the last century. And if you really look hard, you can find railroad spikes and heavy stone mileage markers off to the side.
From my earliest memories I would listen as my parents talked about what we could do at the Land. The way they talked about it, I knew there was something magical in it because it felt so peaceful, happy, and hopeful to discuss. I loved and looked forward to any trips we would make over to the Land even though all we would do would just be to walk through the woods.
I must have been two or three years old, and I can remember running down the old railroad bed which makes up the southern border of the land. In my memory, the sun is shining and I’m smiling and laughing with my parents close behind me, nothing but smiles there, also. A part of me thinks this isn’t a memory as much as an imagination that has been talked about so many times it has become a memory. A character in one of my favorite books said that you can remember anything if you try hard enough, whether it happened or not.
Years passed. The Land continued to be nothing but talked about. Hard times hit us, my parents divorced. The Land dream never died, though. I never stopped loving it or wanting to go there and walk around in the pure nature. Instead, the dream simmered sadly below the surface because I know my mother always dreamed of having a home there, watching her kids play along the creek and in between the trees. It represented happiness that could have been, and still could be somehow, someday.
When I got my first real job and real salary, those hard times were still hitting from the left and right. I took up paying the loan on the Land and felt so proud that I had been a part of saving it. It felt like I had inherited the responsibility of continuing the dream and bringing that dream into fruition. The Land was such a magical part of my childhood, I’ve never been able to get my head around letting it go. Financially, it has been a burden to all involved that never should have been. We would all be better off if the payment didn’t exist, but there is a pull between that plot of land and myself that I cannot break. The Land is a part of me and I am a part of it.
Now, it is my turn. I’ve given the Land a real name. It’s not longer just LAND. It is Halcyon. Pure and perfect bliss and happiness.