SHE STOOD ALONE ON THE EDGE IN DARKNESS

Through forests of emerald-green bliss,
She pranced,
Embracing the colors of endless play—
The rainbows of summer.
She was a child of the earth.

Her tiny voice sang,
And she danced!
No danger lurked in her twinkling eyes.
Everything in her fearless laughter
Was colored with mirth.

She built castles on the shore
By a peaceful and provident sea
That was never foreboding.
She skipped beneath the golden clouds
Like the world belonged to her,
As if there were no cares
And all who loved her
Would keep her safe.

“Do not lose her,” I said.
“Do not lose that child.
She needs you so desperately.”

And then she had this grave fear of the sea,
This somber foreboding.
It seemed so vast and so deep
From the shore,
A leviathan-green, hellish monstrosity
Full of strange creatures that devoured things.
It was all that lay between her
And some faraway place
On the other side of the globe.

Somehow, it was not so frightening now.
Neither was the past,
The present,
Or all the future obscurities—
Not even those people she once had cherished.

The peace of the waters subdued her now,
As she listened to the thrash of the waves.
She was just playing with a stick in the sand.

There was a noted ambiguity
Whenever she spoke of this place.
Certain moments when she embraced the glorious light
And gazed intently into the darkness.
There were moments, too,
When she felt it creep and crawl around her,
When she ached and trembled,
Longing to free herself from its grip.

While seething within,
She wore the mask of kindness,
Harmless and alluring,
With resentment like hemlock,
Beautiful yet wilting,
Glowing yet tarnished,
Beckoning,
Flourishing,
Standing tall,
And unyielding…
Toxic to all
In her flowering beauty.

The sun was setting,
Salmon clouds under a sky of dodger blue,
Flocks of geese
On a sprawling lawn.
A waxing gibbous moon
Beckoned
Like she needed a guide,
A divine light.

“Come forth,” it said.
“Come home.”
And some of the fear waned
As she went forth,
But nothing really changed.

She stood alone on the edge,
In darkness,
A faint silhouette
Gazing at the night sky.
Rain fell,
A sprinkler to the trees
Thrashing in the wind.

She would flee,
Abandoning places,
Suddenly unrecognizable faces.
The glowing sun of Helios
Was a beacon
For eternal bliss,
Yet deceiving.

The caves beckoned.
Every corner,
Every crevice,
Held its own mystery,
Its truth.

Still the perilous journey
Was madness—
Pretty colors and then
Darkness.
It seemed to have no end.

She heard a child crying,
A child from long ago,
A prisoner of her soul.

Stone walls around her,
Hissing sounds,
Deep, treacherous waters—
Her mind was a fractured maze.
No one could see.
No one could hear.
No safe place to run,
She had to find the way
Out…
Home…

Every stone that healed
Brought her closer to
The truth,
The light.

The climb was steep,
But she held on,
Clawing her way
In blindness,
Accepting,
Facing,
Grieving.

Raindrops glistened on the rocks.
Flower petals littered
The wet grass.
She saw vibrant orchids
In the fading light of the moon,
And, alas,
Tranquil waters glistened
Aqua blue.

Like the ancient alchemical goddess,
She was crowned—
A newborn only beginning
To awaken,
Beginning to see,
Her soul bursting
With bliss.

The beauty within
Became the beauty
Eyes could see,
Not perfection—
Courage, perhaps…
Determination,
Defiance,
And love.

She was free.
No jewel could sparkle with
More radiance,
And the years could not tarnish its shine.

From Remnants of Severed Chains © Copyright October 17, 2015 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.

RECLAIM THE GIFT THAT MAKES YOUR SPIRIT SOAR

Photo Credit – Angela Marie Henriette

 

My nephew, Christopher, was about six when he gazed out the window in the backseat of the car and said, “I’m just afraid I will run out of things to draw.”

He began at an early age, sketching and drawing—leaving people in awe of his talent. You see the brilliance in his eyes when he talks to you, especially about art. When I ask him if he can do a certain thing, the answer is, “Of course, I can!” He is chock full of confidence.

It is not hard to believe in someone like him. We not only believe in him, but we also celebrate him. He touches our hearts and remains such a light in a dark world.

I feel the exact same way about my son who was educating strangers about Jupiter’s moons in the first grade. They are two people who came into the world with gifts and talents, and a clear sense of who they were from an early age. I can attest to this much: when you know, from childhood, what you are and what you love, you cannot imagine any other life. I feel strongly; people must allow you to be the person you are, not the vision of you and your future that they have in mind.

It is easy to recognize the apathy and pain of someone who never lived their dream; someone left to wonder what the outcome might have been had they followed their heart. You see glimpses of their fire, traces of the light gone from their eyes. They had their spirits crushed, their voices silenced, their true selves obliterated.

Children need to hold on to their natural confidence and infectious enthusiasm, along with the ability to trust their instincts. My heart tells me, we need to not only believe in them but also show them how much we do.

Perhaps this is one reason experiencing an incredible contribution to the arts– everything from singing and drawing to dancing—can move me to tears. I realize people make incredible achievements every single day, ones I don’t see. They may not have an audience or applause, but their achievements are no less important. But seeing people get out there, doing the thing they love most and nailing it speaks to the person inside many of us that might say, I want to do what I love as fearlessly as that. I want to celebrate that moment where I have the audacity to succeed and reach the hearts of others, all of us sharing the passion and joy. It is one of life’s beautiful and most cherished experiences.

For me, it is.

In these moments, I don’t think about the harrowing destruction of our world or of humanity. It is a brief lull because I don’t want to ignore that. It has affected me profoundly since childhood, and while I search my heart for solutions, I can only counteract with love and a message of oneness. I believe each of us can do that in some way, especially if we have a voice or means of communicating our passion and love to the world. It is one small contribution of many until we can do better.

Those of us who have made it thus far with our dreams intact are eternally grateful. Whatever the passion – no matter what happens in life, it is there, and it saves you. It just might save others, too.

© Copyright August, 2014 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.

THAT DEVOTED GIRL SHATTERED BY YOUR TRUTH IS FREE

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I had a dream about you last night and woke up crying. I couldn’t sleep after that.

In the dream, you were angry with me—full of anger, full of hate. You had shut the door on me and left me out in the cold. I kept calling to you with a child’s unbearable anguish. You didn’t hear.

At some point, I cried, “Help me, daddy,” and finally, you came. I thought you were going to hit me or hurt me with your scarred and violent soul, but you didn’t. You hugged me. Well, you didn’t just hug me. You gave me the kind of hug I’d wanted from you since childhood, the comfort I always needed, and I didn’t want to let go.

I miss your smile and your jokes, Dad, your handsome face, and all of your wisdom, but I have to ask. Does a father realize he is the first man a girl gives her heart to completely? The first man she trusts blindly and devotedly? Did you realize?

I used to think I was hard to love.

Whatever people said—men especially—I wanted to believe them. Deep down, I didn’t. Not a word. And every time a man took something from me that I didn’t want him to have, every time a man tried to silence me, belittle me, or make me doubt myself, I punished him, pummeling him with words and crushing him with goodbye. I could be angry with them but not you.

What if things had been different between us, though? Would I had been less vulnerable or had the confidence to be my authentic self, knowing I was worthy and lovable? Would I have chosen more wisely? Would I have stopped running and hiding, oblivious to my weaknesses and my desperate needs? Would I have respected myself more? Might I have found someone I could love, for real? Someone who could have loved me back? Because I didn’t let them … I made sure they couldn’t.

Well, no matter, that’s all changed now. I picked up the shattered pieces of my heart and began to love myself.

It’s hard not to feel that twinge of emotion when I hear father tributes of the heroes who boosted confidence and taught children to believe in themselves. I honestly wish everyone could beam with that pride, feeling safe, content, and protected in that eternal bond.

It’s easy to defeat someone when you have all the power, when you are on a pedestal from the start, and you make all the rules. You can create vulnerability and punish the very same, though you don’t mean it. You can erase one’s humanity because of your denial, your self-loathing, and your shame, though you’re not aware. You can damage a person almost beyond repair. And, after the wrecking ball, cleanup of that wreckage rests solely on those tiny shoulders. Yeah, those shoulders get bigger, but somehow it all gets harder and more complicated.

I cleaned up that mess, though. The void lasts forever, and many people can attest to that, but I got those things I needed. It just takes ongoing effort to hold on to them.

And by the time I had a child of my own, I knew all too well what a child needs. I was able to give him that, but I couldn’t give him YOU. Oh, he’s brilliant and kind and funny, and so very loyal. Like you, he’s hard and strong but with such a tender heart. He needed you, and he still needs you, though he’d never admit it now. He’d been shattered right along with me, but we rose to the challenge, and he loves with his whole heart like I do. I’m proud of him, and I’d like to think you’d be proud of him, too, but it doesn’t matter now.

Look, maybe you didn’t give me what I needed, but you gave what you had. I saw a brave and modest man, generous with assistance and advice—a hero to many, and I know why they love you. I know why I loved you. Sure, it’s easy to love someone when you think they are perfect; when you hold them up on a pedestal and pretend they are everything you need and always wanted. You fell off that pedestal when I was twelve, Dad, but I loved you so much, flaws and all, and I still do. That’s unconditional love, and though you couldn’t give that to me, you still get it. Because guess what? You deserved that, too, from the people who didn’t give it to you.

Yeah, I knew why you were the way you were, though you accepted no excuses from me when I fell short. You could never understand me, but I understood you. Though you couldn’t hear me, yours was the loudest voice I’d heard in my entire life—a voice that continued to bellow in my ear for a lifetime. It kept me from standing up. It kept me from fighting, and it kept me from winning until I did all those things because I couldn’t lose any more. I climbed in spite of you, because of you and for you, because you couldn’t do it yourself, and I understand that.

When you were angry, devastated, and tortured, I tried to tell you it would be okay, that I was sorry for you, and that I loved you, but it seemed too much for you to bear at the time. Then, in the end, I forgave you, and you forgave me. It took a lifetime, but we got there.

Sigh. There are many things we never got to do, Dad, and it’s too late now. You’re gone. But I do have some fond memories of you that I will cherish always.

And here’s what I wish.

I wish I could go back in time with you—to those boyhood days when you were punished severely for no good reason—when you were invalidated, shamed, ridiculed, and ignored, just to tell you how awesome you were, and all you could be and do with your life. I’d say I believe in you, and that you have everything you need to succeed. I would say over and over that I love you to the moon and back, so you would know how worthy you are of that love. And maybe you would have grown up to be what you wanted, and have felt no shame. Then when it was your turn, you could have done the same. You would have known I was not an extension of you and didn’t have to represent you or your ideals. Perhaps you would not have expected such a conformist “go with the flow” type of kid who didn’t make waves but sang to a song you couldn’t possibly hear. You would not have lost empathy. You wouldn’t have cared how others saw me or what they would think. You’d have simply treasured me for the person I am. Imagine that!

The aching in my heart is that I want that for everyone. I wish all men and women who didn’t get what they needed as children would give that and get it back in abundance however they can. And I’m infinitely grateful to every hardworking mom and dad who gets up every day ready and willing to get it all right, including you.

Rest easy, Dad, and know you will always be in my heart.

“Children are the most fearless souls on earth.”― Lailah Gifty Akita, Think Great: Be Great!

Further Reading:

10 Ways Strong Women Move Past Their ‘Daddy Issues’

Why Dads Matter — Especially to Girls

*****

Featured photo at beginning of blog by Fritz Zuber-Buhler

© Copyright May 31, 2016 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.

SHE STOOD ALONE ON THE EDGE OF DARKNESS

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Through forests of emerald-green bliss,
She pranced,
Embracing the colors of endless play—
The rainbows of summer.
She was a child of the earth.

Her tiny voice sang,
And she danced!
No danger lurked in her twinkling eyes.
Everything in her fearless laughter
Was colored with mirth.

She built castles on the shore
By a peaceful and provident sea
That was never foreboding.
She skipped beneath the golden clouds
Like the world belonged to her,
As if there were no cares
And all who loved her
Would keep her safe.

“Do not lose her,” I said.
“Do not lose that child.
She needs you so desperately.”

And then she had this grave fear of the sea,
This somber foreboding.
It seemed so vast and so deep
From the shore,
A leviathan-green, hellish monstrosity
Full of strange creatures that devoured things.
It was all that lay between her
And some faraway place
On the other side of the globe.

Somehow, it was not so frightening now.
Neither was the past,
The present,
Or all the future obscurities—
Not even those people she once had cherished.

The peace of the waters subdued her now,
As she listened to the thrash of the waves.
She was just playing with a stick in the sand.

There was a noted ambiguity
Whenever she spoke of this place.
Certain moments when she embraced the glorious light
And gazed intently into the darkness.
There were moments, too,
When she felt it creep and crawl around her,
When she ached and trembled,
Longing to free herself from its grip.

While seething within,
She wore the mask of kindness,
Harmless and alluring,
With resentment like hemlock,
Beautiful yet wilting,
Glowing yet tarnished,
Beckoning,
Flourishing,
Standing tall,
And unyielding…
Toxic to all
In her flowering beauty.

The sun was setting,
Salmon clouds under a sky of dodger blue,
Flocks of geese
On a sprawling lawn.
A waxing gibbous moon
Beckoned
Like she needed a guide,
A divine light.

“Come forth,” it said.
“Come home.”
And some of the fear waned
As she went forth,
But nothing really changed.

She stood alone on the edge,
In darkness,
A faint silhouette
Gazing at the night sky.
Rain fell,
A sprinkler to the trees
Thrashing in the wind.

She would flee,
Abandoning places,
Suddenly unrecognizable faces.
The glowing sun of Helios
Was a beacon
For eternal bliss,
Yet deceiving.

The caves beckoned.
Every corner,
Every crevice,
Held its own mystery,
Its truth.

Still the perilous journey
Was madness—
Pretty colors and then
Darkness.
It seemed to have no end.

She heard a child crying,
A child from long ago,
A prisoner of her soul.

Stone walls around her,
Hissing sounds,
Deep, treacherous waters—
Her mind was a fractured maze.
No one could see.
No one could hear.
No safe place to run,
She had to find the way
Out…
Home…

Every stone that healed
Brought her closer to
The truth,
The light.

The climb was steep,
But she held on,
Clawing her way
In blindness,
Accepting,
Facing,
Grieving.

Raindrops glistened on the rocks.
Flower petals littered
The wet grass.
She saw vibrant orchids
In the fading light of the moon,
And, alas,
Tranquil waters glistened
Aqua blue.

Like the ancient alchemical goddess,
She was crowned—
A newborn only beginning
To awaken,
Beginning to see,
Her soul bursting
With bliss.

The beauty within
Became the beauty
Eyes could see,
Not perfection—
Courage, perhaps…
Determination,
Defiance,
And love.

She was free.
No jewel could sparkle with
More radiance,
And the years could not tarnish its shine.

From Remnants of Severed Chains © Copyright October 17, 2015 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.

AN OPEN LETTER TO YOUR INNER CHILD BY ALISON NAPI

2b6c139b3f1567f5923d6f1ab3544af0I am often in awe of beautiful things shared from the heart. This “love letter”, by Alison Napi, appeared on Rebelle Society, one of my favorite sites. It speaks to many of us, regardless of what we may believe about miracles and God. It’s worth sharing over and over. Enjoy.

An Open Letter to Your Inner Child
by Alison Napi

To the child who couldn’t understand
why nobody could understand.
To the one whose hand was never taken,
whose eyes were never gazed into by
an adult who said,
“I love you.
You are a miracle.
You are holy,
right now and
forever.”

To the one who grew up in the realm of “can’t.”
To you who lived “never enough.”
To the one who came home to no one there, and
there but not home.

To the one who could never understand why
she was being hit
by hands, words, ignorance.

To the one whose innocence was unceremoniously stolen.
To the one who fought back.
To the one who shattered.
To the never not broken one.
To the child who survived.

To the one who was told she was
sinful, bad, ugly.

To the one who didn’t fit.
To she who bucked authority
and challenged the status quo.

To the one who called out
the big people for
lying, hiding and cruelty.

To the one who never stopped loving anyway.

To the child that was forbidden to need.

To the ones whose dreams were crushed
by adults whose dreams were crushed.

To the one whose only friend
was the bursting, budding forest.
To the ones who prayed to the moon,
who sang to the stars
in the secrecy of the night
to keep the darkness at bay.

To the child who saw God
in the bursting sunshine of
dandelion heads
and the whispering
clover leaf.

To the child of light who cannot die,
even when she’s choking
in seven seas of darkness.

To the one love
I am and you are.

You are holy.
I love you.
You are a miracle.
Your life,
your feelings,
your hopes and dreams–
they matter.

Somebody failed you but you will not fail.
Somebody looked in your eyes and saw the sun — blazing — and got scared.
Somebody broke your heart but your love remains perfect.
Somebody lost their dreams and thought you should too,
but you mustn’t.

Somebody told you
that you weren’t
enough
or too much,
but you are
without question
the most perfect
and holy creation of
God’s
own
hands.

*****
{You Are Loved}

from: An Open Love Letter to Your Inner Child on Rebelle Society

i-have-survived

CARMEN SANCHEZ, A TRIBUTE TO MY MOTHER

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My mother, Carmen Sanchez (or Carmelita/Carmecita/Carmita as her family often called her) was born in Havana, Cuba, the youngest of ten children. She grew up poor and fatherless, since her father passed away when she was only two.

In the photo above, we are in Cuba, and I am holding her hand. My older sister, Maria, is standing next to me and my Abuela is standing behind.

I remember a lot about that visit to Cuba.

We must have gone to some large marketplace in Havana. I imagine my mother had described Fidel Castro to me, so each time a man with a beard passed; I pulled her skirt, asking, “Mommy is that Castro?”

“Shush,” she would say, stifling laughter. “Quiet. He’s not going to be walking around here, and people can hear you.”

“They can hear you,” my older sister repeated. “Stop it!”

I quickly lost interest; for it appeared, there were baby chickens for sale on every corner.

“Those are pollitos,” my mother said.

“I want a pollito.”

She laughed, taking my hand. “Come on.”

I kept lagging and lingering. She kept urging me on.

An aunt we were about to visit had a thatched roof farmhouse with a backyard full of pollitos, and my mother knew this. I would spend the afternoon admiring pollitos and feeding them corn.

I found this video of Havana and another of the gorgeous beach she took us to during our visit, which is a nice treat on this cold winter day. If you don’t have time, skip those, as I will get back to the subject of my mother.

My mother was tiny but fierce, a force to contend with, determined to learn English and to work hard. She did that from the beginning up until the day she retired, same as my father who came to this country from Italy. They were proud to be American citizens. He fought for his new country. She felt honored to be a soldier’s wife. He worked as a butcher then meat department manager for a Grand Union supermarket in Astoria, Queens, New York. She worked as a meat wrapper then an assembly-line bench worker at Bulova Watch Company in Woodside and ultimately a salesperson for A&S.

My mother never immersed us in the Cuban culture. She was afraid of people judging her, people who perceived Cubans as freeloaders. I wish she hadn’t felt that way, and it warmed my heart to see a glimpse of pride in her heritage when she taught us Christmas songs she had learned in Cuba and talked about their traditions. I never wanted her to feel ashamed of who she was.

My fond memories of her include her love for holidays, her decorating with a giddy enthusiasm, no matter how many years had passed. She and my father made every holiday and birthday special, celebrating us along with their life together. Our lives were far from perfect, but they gave so much, with their hearts always in the right place.

In the first photo below, I am the girl on the far left with my mother standing over me. In the second photo, I am watching my mother cut the cake on my birthday.

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She taught me unconditional love because she gave it. For many, many years, it was the rarest thing to receive in an unapologetically harsh world. If I had doubts, she restored my faith in who I was, and in the dreams I cherished. She was proud of her daughters, her girls. When it came to my father, her love and devotion knew no bounds.

As an aside, she loved to shop, especially for clothes. I inherited that, along with her lack of impulse control. My sisters did, too.

In the three photos below, the first is me with my true hair color. HA! In the second, I am the blonde with my arm around my mother during one of our New Years Eve celebrations. My younger sister, Denise, is to the right of the little cousin I am holding. In the last photo, my mom is in front of her daughters. That is me on the left, my older sister in the middle and my younger sister on the right.

5Rob

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My lovely mother died of a stroke in June of 2011. That first night she was gone, I remember feeling she was frightened. In retrospect, I think I was the scared one. Despite her age, she looked beautiful in her eternal rest. I’m sure she was at peace.

Me…not so much. I had panic attacks in the months that followed. My world grew darker and colder, so much darker than those sunny days of laughter in her comforting presence. Something was gone from my soul, a part of me. I thought about all the times she called just to hear my voice, and to see if I was okay—those times I was too busy and figured I would call back later. I should have taken every call and savored every moment I could hear her, hold her, laugh with her. For the most part, I did but not enough. It is never enough. I just miss her so much.

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images

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© Copyright January 8, 2015 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.

THE DICKENS SPIRIT, NOW AND ALWAYS


Among my favorite teachers was one of the two male teachers in an all-girl high school. He taught English, my favorite subject. In junior year, he took our class to see the Christmas show at Radio City Music Hall. The original black and white version of A Christmas Carol featuring Alastair Sim was part of their holiday spectacular.

Though I saw the movie decades after its original release, I found this old 1951 trailer for the film rather interesting.

Dickens painted Ebenezer Scrooge sympathetically and quite vividly. I fell in love with the spirited imagination of Dickens in all of its brilliance, his extraordinary larger-than-life characters, and the potent messages behind every one of his tales. My love of 19th-century British literature began, along with an ongoing yen for England. I was sixteen years old.

It may have been Oliver Twist that I read next. I recall being shocked by the harshness of this child’s reality.

By the time I turned 25, my love for Dickens knew no bounds. I named one of the two dwarf parrots I owned “Pip” after Philip Pirrip, the protagonist in Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations. I named the other one Nicholas after the character in Nicholas Nickleby. I had a fish tank I called “Copperfield Gardens” in homage to the hero of the Dickens’ book I loved most, David Copperfield. David, with his courage, strength and beautiful, benevolent heart, triumphed through one heartbreak after another. In this version, below, he was portrayed by a very young Daniel Radcliffe, better known to all as Harry Potter.

The same year I got the dwarf parrots, a precious friend from England gave me a miniature book of Dickens’ life story as a Christmas gift. I moved several times over the years, and this little book has always made it back onto my bookshelf. I loved reading about the man behind the fascinating tales.

Charles Dickens was already famous when he helped injured passengers in England during the 1865 Staplehurst train crash.

I saw, in Dickens, true heroism in the face of disaster and everyday heroism, as he was a tireless champion for the oppressed.

This final video is fitting in wrapping up my tribute. It’s my favorite song from the 1970 musical version of A Christmas Carol with Albert Finney in the role of Scrooge. In future visions foretold by the third visiting ghost, a town celebrated Scrooge’s passing singing, “Thank You Very Much.”

I also thank my beloved Dickens for his incredible contribution to the world, for all the inspiration, and for truly enriching my life.


Some of my favorite Charles Dickens quotes:

“Not knowing how he lost himself, or how he recovered himself, he may never feel certain of not losing himself again.” ― A Tale of Two Cities

“I wear the chain I forged in life….I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it.” ― A Christmas Carol

“I have been bent and broken, but – I hope – into a better shape.”

“A day wasted on others is not wasted on one’s self.” ― A Tale of Two Cities

“Give me a moment, because I like to cry for joy. It’s so delicious, John dear, to cry for joy.” ― Our Mutual Friend

“I hope that real love and truth are stronger in the end than any evil or misfortune in the world.”

“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.”

“Have a heart that never hardens, and a temper that never tires, and a touch that never hurts.”

“Never,” said my aunt, “be mean in anything; never be false; never be cruel. Avoid those three vices, Trot, and I can always be hopeful of you.” ― David Copperfield
 

More About Charles Dickens:

Charles Dickens Info

 

© Copyright December 20, 2014 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.

A RETURN TO MY CHILDHOOD HEART

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A few years ago, when I began my literary fiction series, I chose New York City as the setting for my story. I was born and raised in Woodside, Queens, New York, so it seemed the obvious choice. I soon realized this was not the story I wanted to tell. The determination to write since early childhood had nothing to do with wanting or needing to tell my story. Fantasy drew me in, and I loved a challenge. Somewhere along the line, I became stuck in reality, and this created limits in the limitless realm of fiction.

I decided to find a different setting for my story, a place I’d never visited. I chose Glastonbury, on the banks of the Connecticut River. I would visit there eventually and numerous times but only after I created it first in my mind. Of course, these days, we have the Internet for research—images, maps and that little yellow Google person. One could travel the roads and study the map while sitting in a comfortable office chair drinking coffee, which I did.

This past Sunday was my first “actual” visit. I traveled there with my sister, Denise, my son, Jesse, and my nephew, Christopher. We decided we would go to Hartford first, which is about twenty minutes from Glastonbury.

We set out at 9 a.m. on the most beautiful September day. After an hour of driving, we stopped for breakfast at Cracker Barrel Old Country Store in Milford. Christopher tried the apple streusel French toast breakfast. Jesse had a bacon cheeseburger. Denise and I ordered scrambled eggs with biscuits.

Now, Jesse never wants photos of him on the Internet, which I thoroughly respect. He took these photos at Cracker Barrel, except for the goofy one where I tried on the cowboy hat. Denise took that one while Jesse watched Christopher take videos of a toy pig singing ‘Wild Thing’ and a toy dog singing ‘Dance to the Music’.

Our arrival in Hartford was at least an hour later.

Hartford Welcome

We bought tickets for a tour of Mark Twain’s house and poked around the museum until it was time for the tour.

 

I was thrilled at the first glimpse of Mark Twain’s Victorian Gothic revival home. I could see why this place was so special to him. (As an aside, the guide usually referred to Mark Twain as Samuel Clemens, Mr. Clemens or Sam. As I am sure most people are aware, it was his real name.)

When we went inside the house, the guide asked that we refrain from taking photographs or touching anything except the banister while walking up and down the stairs. I must say, the décor is impressive. I loved the ambiance, particularly in the cozy library, which faced a conservatory that had a fountain and lush plants. The interior of the house remains dark for the tours because the Clemens family had gas lighting when they occupied the home. I love dim lighting, but I imagine this much darkness can become dreary, not to mention a little spooky at night, going up and down those stairs, probably with a candle. It prompted me to ask about ghost stories. The guide informed us that people claimed to have seen the ghost of Susy Clemens, the oldest daughter. She died alone in the house, from spinal meningitis, at the age of 24. Employees also made claims that the butler’s ghost continues to work there. We learned that the show ‘Ghost Hunters’ featured the house. Apparently, there are ‘Graveyard Shift Ghost Tours’ that sell out quickly, so tickets must be bought in advance.

Some people in attendance were not thrilled to hear about the ghosts. I hadn’t thought about that since I don’t seriously believe in ghosts. Denise reminded us of the time we all walked through the haunted maze at Bayville Scream Park. While searching frantically for the exit, I said (loudly) there was no way out, then suddenly all these kids were crying hysterically. Their parents had to assure them there was an exit somewhere. It’s a good thing I believed in ghosts when my own son was a child. I was less oblivious to people’s fears and concerns about ghosts and other creatures that likely don’t exist.

The tour, while quite interesting, took much longer than they said it would. Through most of it, I didn’t focus on our confinement to a relatively small space where only three people weren’t strangers. Toward the end, this reality became painfully obvious. I wanted to ball gag anyone who asked another question.

Outside on the grounds, we took more photos. I came up with the unoriginal idea to pose with a book, since I like those seemingly candid shots of authors reading books. I am still laughing about this. Denise (and even Jesse) took a dozen photos like that—me reading on the grass, on the steps of the museum, on a bench, etc. Everyone made me laugh with funny comments about these “photo-ops” especially since I hate photos of me, let alone sharing them on social networking sites. During the last attempt, Jesse thought he had the perfect shot when Denise came over and said, “Still with the book?” I lost it and laughed hysterically in the only picture you will see of me with the book. It was the way she said it. She is funny. They are all so funny. Christopher later decided he, too, wanted a picture while reading a book. It became a thing…a silly thing. Silly is good.

Here are a few of the photos, which include some other houses on the property, like Harriet Beecher Stowe’s house. The Twain and Stowe houses are captioned at least one time.


I am including the link for anyone who would like to see the interior we could not photograph and some other interesting links.

Mark Twain House

Nook Farm: Mark Twain’s Neighborhood

Where Mr. Twain and Mrs. Stowe Built Their Dream Houses

Funny Mark Twain Quotes

By the time we arrived in Glastonbury, it was late afternoon. It was not easy to find certain places, and we often found ourselves on private property during the search. One or two of us got out of the car anyway, camera in hand. Jesse said we should have brought bail money. He wouldn’t budge from the car.

We drove around in circles trying to find the entrance to Shoddy Mill Coon Hollow’s pristine woodlands. That didn’t happen. The one person we asked sent us to the wrong place, though we thoroughly enjoyed the scenic drive through the woods of Kongscut Mountain Open Space and Mountain View Estates. It was gorgeous, but we didn’t take any photos. We were too busy looking for Shoddy Mill Coon Hollow.

Glastonbury is a pretty place. I wish we had more time to capture this in photos; however, it was great to be there. We did more laughing than anything, but that’s the best part of any trip. We had fun.

These are photos of my main character’s neighborhood (which is a bit too close to the cemetery). She attended Smith Middle School. Addison Park was part of her childhood.


Here is a link to the preserve we were looking for (Shoddy Mill Coon Hollow).

The Cotton Hollow Preserve We Didn’t Find

On the way back to New York, we saw the most incredible sunset. Denise loves to photograph sunrises and sunsets, but she was driving. I took a picture for her with her phone, except I never heard the click. I thought it didn’t work the first time, and somehow she ended up with I don’t know how many pictures of that sunset.

She was busy deleting sunsets at Red Lobster while we ordered our food, scolding me. We all joked. We were home in New York by then and starving. We savored every bite of our meals. Eating is part of the fun, too, isn’t it? Besides, we ran out of Twizzlers in Hartford.

Here is what I learned. Your heart, as a child, knows. Through life’s encounters and experiences, you can pile shovel after shovel of dirt upon it—bury it so deep that it is lost to you. It’s important to dig through all the dirt and find it, then embrace it, and never lose it again.

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