A Place Where I Was Happy

I’m depressed guys, only this time for a slightly more legitimate, if nastagia driven, reason.

See, growing up, my family has always gone to Rough River. It was our place. It is our place. One of the few areas appealing enough to flock to at the first sign of a long weekend. A cell recption killing, mutant mosquito swarmed haven of water and eery silence deep into the night. That’s a kind of silence you just don’t get in the city.

I’ve spent more days than I can count, or even remember, with my family out on that water. I’ve eaten carefully wrapped sandwiches, raising them up above the waters edge as I float, clumsy and puffy in my safety jacket. I’ve slurped watermelon carelessy, paying no mind to the sticky juices covering my face and hands.  I have fed turtles cheetohs. I’ve tubed and failed horribly at skiing. I’ve burnt to a lobstery crisp despite my mother’s warning to wear sunbloc, and laid, itchy and uncomfortably warm at night, knowing I was just going to do it again in the morning.

First, we went there and stayed in a family friend’s place. I only have a few memories that reach back that far; staring wide eyed at the bats long into the night, when I should have been sleeping, and chasing those lizards with the blue racing stripes, whose tails popped off at the last second, bestowing them freedom from my young and grubby fingers.

Then we went there camping, RV style. I loved camping, despite the fact that it forced me to be out of my privacy bubble. I looked forward to it, even though there were no true walls to hide behind, and showering involved protective flipflops and a large, cricket infested, cement building. It was by no means “roughing it”, but it did rip me out of my comfort zone on a regular basis, in a way that was more exciting than panic inducing.

On occasion, my sister and I even slept in a tent outside the RV. Oh yeah, wild women were we.

I remember bon fires and smores. A few special weekends when the family all went to the same camp ground and lined up the RV’s like a tiny tin neighborhood. I remember my mother’s tacky lights, transforming our small square into a cheery space to laugh and play cards.

Then came the camp. The Tilta-World as we named it, due to the waving of the walls and the slight tilt to the floor that made you feel tipsy in the middle of the night. It was a glorious, tiny, nothing that was our family’s everything many summers for many years. The kitchen, covered head to toe in green ivy wall paper, including the mirror and fan blades. I slept in a tiny closet of a rooom, adorned in treasures I picked up from peddlers malls and flea markets, and the ugliest green vinyl flooring in existence, which I thought was just absolutely beautiful when I picked it out. With a wraparound deck, mounted up on the hill, it gave a beautiful view to anyone willing to just sit and look for it. Again there were the camp fires and card games. Long days out on the boat, coming back exhausted and happy, slightly toasted, and longing for a shower.

And now it’s gone.

See, that beautiful little trailer is older than me. And it has held on for many years, God bless it, but last year when my husband and I arrived for Memorial weekend, we noticed the ceiling sagging. Dust around the edges, seeping in through cracks that were not there the year before. This year, we came down armed with saws and hammers. Nails and plaster board.

We were going to fix that beautiful nothing. We were going to prop its ceiling back up and reclaim its rooms. I wasn’t ready for the Tilta-World to be gone, and I was going to fight mold and mildew, spiders and hornets, to reclaim its presence. I wanted just a couple more years in the place that felt so familiar.

But we were too late. The winter was too hard on its weakend roof. We arrived to caved in ceilings and standing water. To mold overtaking the walls and rugs. We arrived to my childhood memories, falling into decay from neglect and lack of use. We took too long. We cared too late. And now there’s nothing we can do to save it.

I feel like part of my childhood died out there, alone, with no one to say goodbye. It shouldn’t have gone like that. It should have been fixed or replaced while it still resembled its  self. It should have been able to go with dignity.

It was a place where I was happy. And now it’s been destroyed.


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