So much of Rockford is forever the same, like I've stepped back into my childhood routines effortlessly. And yet, so much changes--a huge addition to my elementary school, rampant build outs on certain thoroughfares, entire new neighborhoods filled with identical houses in various shades of beige. I'm still convinced my junior high has the exact same worn out blinds hanging in the band room that hung there in 1987 (my mother says they may be the same blinds that hung there in the early 60s when she went there.) Am convinced that the ghost of my child self is still walking down into the woods closer the river to catch the school bus every morning and every afternoon walking the winding road back out of those same woods. Am convinced that if I knocked on any door in the neighborhood, the kids that used to live their would answer. (kids who I'd lost touch with before we even left high school, some to rehab and reform schools)
Summer is about different memories, and so are spring and winter, but fall (and especially the pre-Halloween season) reminds me of yards thick and deep with damp leaves, the rich smell they gave off, especially when the temp dropped. Pumpkins ruined by early frost. Leaf collections and haunted houses in stripmalls and fire stations and abandoned grade schools. How dark the street was trick or treating (the sole light is actually at the park entrance across the street from the house, so it's entirely black the rest of the length of it. (and actually, my dad would usually drive us to a close-by subdivision since there are only a handful of houses on the street and my parents were wary of sending us down into 'the glen', the wooded area of ramshackle houses and trailers in the woods at the bottom, where it was equally dark populated by god-knows-who.) Even still, it's a neighborhood populated by people my mother grew up with (the land was my grandmother's and split among my mother's siblings.) People grow up and grow old, but then their children move in, move away, and more take over the houses or build bigger ones. I am not sure I would live here, (Rockford in general is gross and I love Chicago) but sometimes I think about it, about roots and land and a sense of place and how tethered I feel sometimes.
We drove out to the orchard for donuts and apples on Monday, and then back through the state park we spent many a summer camping or fishing in tents and pickup campers. The same state park where I trekked around the lake for a girl scout badge in 1984. The same state park that's still a landscape filled with beautiful autumn trees. It's all about nostalgia lately, so I bide my time watching horror movies with my dad like old times, eating mallowcreme tiny pumpkins, sleeping well and deep in my childhood room with the closet door I busted , the nightstand that belonged to my grandmother, the view out over the horse paddock next door (actually, there haven't been horses in years.) It makes the ghost child of me happy n a way the child-me never would have been (I was moody and difficult and demanding in those years..)