Once upon a time there was a little boy who moved with his family to what seemed to him then, the edge of civilization. His previous home was comfortable and safe and the children who lived nearby were about as normal as could be expected for the times. Everyone seemed to show respect for each other and their parents were those cookie-cutter stereotypical parents similar to what you would find in the black and white TV serial Leave it to Beaver. This little boy found his new home strange, the landscape queer, and above all the people living near by to be of the type he’d never encountered.
His first summer was spent helping with repairs and improvements to his family’s new home but didn’t venture too far because he’d always felt there was something sinister lurking beyond the fields where the hamlet of rickety homes that were only visible when riding past in the back seat of his parent’s car. Sometimes when the wind was from the north, there were foreign smells drifting from that area that were akin to burning rubber or possibly garbage. He soon developed a bit of a watchful eye on the north.
Summer ended and the days of school started. He didn’t realize it at the time, but he was informed that he had to walk to his new school and that was to him a treacherous journey on foot. His first school day was filled with anxiety knowing he had to walk past those dark curtain-less windows and seemingly hairy doors. His journey seemed an eternity, yet he sprinted as fast as he could to escape the shadows of human movement in and around those hovels. A big white angry dog decided the boy didn’t belong on that dusty road so began chasing him. Luckily this young man knew how to jump fences and dodge bushes. Over the days and months, there seemed to be only two beacons of civility surrounding his life; the first was his home and the second was school. In those first years he learned to side-step sticks and rocks being thrown by naughty children living in that sub-village. His running abilities became quite advanced while his intuition kicked into over-drive along with his ability to adapt to his surroundings.
His parents soon learned that a biting German Shepherd would be an appropriate pet to have in helping ward off the hamlet people from stealing anything from chickens to tools while his family was at Sunday services. Each of the colorful hamlet’s households had stories of their own ranging from eking out a living by junking cars and farm implements, to raising runt pigs being fed on garbage collected from the city’s waste bins, to tying up ponies along the ditches of that dusty road to be likely sold for heaven knows what purposes. The village people considered the boy’s family aloof and guarded while on the contrary his family considered the people of the north to be dangerously primitive. His mother often reminded him that ignorance was the seed of resignation.
Often times the look-away while driving past the hamlet on hot summer days was appropriate in order for he and his siblings to contain their innocence. Over time, the hamlet homes fell into such states of dis-repair that nearly all of them returned to Mother Earth. As years passed, his family prospered and life regained its wholeness. Long after this young man became an adult, he realized that those tumultuous years were multiple gifts of life lessons to be used as reminders of how people can either continue to carry their heavy burdens or adapt and change their circumstances whenever they find themselves living in the midst of the hamlet that is just down that dust road in their lives.