Personal Essay: What is a place that is very important to you?
My house is chaotic and loud most days. With the television on almost all the time and people too lazy to get up in order to talk, the messages are hollered from room to room. An almost constant flow of conversation continues around the clock, and sometimes, it just gets old. I go searching for the peace and quiet that I know must be out there in the world somewhere. And sometimes shutting the bedroom door and playing my own music, my own soundtrack to life, just isn’t enough.
On those rare occasions, and if the weather is good, I involuntarily find myself wandering out of my front door and around the side of my house where all the grass is dead. The journey continues over the sidewalk where the penny from 1954 has been there since some genius who put it there watched the wet cement dry. Lincoln smiles at me every time I squat down and check the year one more time. I pause a little, imagining how much that poor penny has been through. It has witnessed all the storms, all the people passing by. One instance in particular always comes to mind.
The afternoon that my brother and I sat there pounding at the sidewalk trying to get the penny out of the sidewalk where it was so permanently stuck. At that point, I was passing through a complete adoration phase. The older brother, wiser and obviously much cooler, was always right. My small, 9-year-old eyes would light up when he said anything as small as “Nice Job” or “Way to go,” every single time a special moment. That’s the way it was, and every time I go back, I remember those times.
For the task at hand, our tools of choice were the plastic shovels from the sandbox, sharp rocks from around our house, and our prize rock: one bigger than my whole hand, weather-beaten, and with several small sections chipped off. A true ancestor of a rock. Looking back, quite a few of those chipped sections came from that one afternoon, as the sidewalk and that penny remained as solid and resilient as ever.
Back in present day, I shrugged my shoulders and made it over the sidewalk into my little peace of heaven. I walked straight to the middle of the clearing, no bigger than my own room, and dropped flat on my back. As I stared up at the sky and watched the clouds pass by, everything else faded away. When I’m in my own backyard, and I hear someone passing by, I always have to make sure that I’m well hidden. Not here. This space was a place where I became truly unaware of whatever else might have been going on around me. A whole parade complete with marching bands and cheering crowds could have passed right by on that skinny penny sidewalk and I could not have cared less. This was the place that I could relax and let everything go, surrounded by the great outdoors and with no one else around.
Everything about the clearing was perfect. The type of grass that you could lie down on and not worry about grass stains on your clothes later blanketed the whole space. There was a small hill on the right that went under the fence of the next yard over, and the whole area was gently surrounded by a circle of delicate trees, just the right size.
The whole clearing was just right, the one place I could conclude my quest for peace, at last.