Thursday, June 11, 2009

Reepee sails away: An Elegy for Childhood

Until this summer, my kids have lived much of their childhood in Animalville, a small rambling town located in the southeast corner of our dining room.

Animalville boasts the usual amenities found in any well appointed town: charming houses, a school, a park and playground. Sometimes there's a cafe. Sometimes a store. Many institutions have come and gone over the years as the town has evolved to meet the changing needs of its residents. The houses are mostly made of wood and each has almost endless rooms. The weather is almost always perfect. The ecomony is based on love.

The citizens here live in loyal, almost tribal, family groups. Over the years their professions have ranged from preschool teacher and shop owner to fashion designer, film makers and international popstars. Many of them are children. Some are kind, a few are occasionally truculant, once in awhile even defiant.

Through the years the town has witnessed all the usual life stories from silly songs and other happy playground antics, to bigger stuff like turf wars, squabbles, reunions, births, adoptions.

And oh have they all traveled... to the beach, to Antarctica. It's all just a wish away from home.

Who wouldn't want to live here?

This is an elegy for Animalville. My kids are now 14, 1o and 9 years old and the time they spend there has dwindled to almost nothing. We'll see. Maybe there's just enough life left to see us through one more long summer.

A long time ago, when Lia as a baby, a wise woman told me that motherhood is the discipline of saying goodbye. Today that goodbye resonates deep as the continental drift.