My city of ruins, my city of hope. Trapped inside a city decaying not from rust or external wear, mind you, but from within. The moral turpitude which had once been not exactly above reproach, but had offered a certain hope for the future seemed long gone; buried in the faded light of a past life. I came here when I was young, maybe about six or seven years old. I remember it well as the news seemed full of graphic depictions of a war in a far off land I could not have remembered were it not for history books.
We drove across the country in a beat up station wagon looking for a better life, staying mostly inside the car at night with only our small dog to alert us to any danger that may approach. But this was before those days when you feared falling asleep in a car, in a strange city. I remember vividly a stop in Chicago. Sleeping soundly when suddenly the dog began to bark. It was more of a screeching yelp, fear struck and terror was the only feeling inside the cramped car where my sisters and I slept. Burglars. Murderers. That must be it, we thought. The incessant nature of London’s barking gave us a slight moment of pause, but not so much so that we would not repeat the same steps the next night, in a different city. It turned out to be a simple field mouse scrounging around the car for food. At least we knew that the stray pup we had picked up just before leaving Maryland could give us some notice as to potential dangers.
It’s interesting what tidbits stick out in the mind of a child. We drove over three-thousand miles and the strongest memory is that of a dog barking at a mouse. I do remember that the car was just like the one in The Brady Bunch, or the movie Vacation. Those station wagons were everywhere back then. It had just enough room for three children and our mother, but barely. It was cramped and there had been no showers along the way, so the odor inside the car was dark and heavy, like a layer of Northwest fog pressing down on our senses. A slight crack in the window did little to alleviate the smell, but we also did not seem to care as much then as we would now. Children. We seemed impervious to all of those things that hold us back now as adults.
I remember very little about the drive itself looking back – it was so many years ago and I was young. There was an idyllic nature to driving across the nation. I felt like we were pioneers. No, not Lewis and Clark types, other people had been here, but this was just a small family, with everything they owned, traveling for a better life – or so we hoped.
This is the beginning of a story about a boy lost in his mind, lost in a new city, a city he had been promised offered hope, yet one which would only provide constant doubt, fear, and ugliness to his mind. But the story will not be one of pain, or of obvious hope. Instead, I plan to offer the character hope through a short adventure that guides him through his new home.
Today, I was given my own little jolt of strangeness. To which I only say this.
Worry can save. Worry can destroy. The trick is to know when to worry - or when to not worry. The weary traveler is not always cause for worry. Fear not for me as I am strong of mind and spirit.