A quilt covered Charlie’s navy blue childhood bed. Above the bed hung a very large pin board covered with photos. I moved in to look more closely. There were images of Charlie on bikes, at Christmas, disguised for Halloween, on his boat and more. A superman-attired boy Charlie raced down a long, grassy hill with his arms out, as if he was flying. In almost every photo, friends flanked Charlie. Many of the faces in the photos morphed older over time.
It struck me how different Charlie and my childhoods had been. Charlie’s house, close to the school, was in a small town where he could ride to everything on his bike. He had clearly been popular. Pictures showed him holding winning baseball trophies, shooting basketballs or hugging team members after a just-scored soccer goal. All the pictures gave this feel of Charlie always being at the center of everything. Instead, I had grown up isolated in a Garden on a mountain where most of my play was with Susie or alone in my own imagination.
What struck me too was how carefree and happy everyone looked. I would have stared back from similar pictures hurt and hollow. Maybe growing up like this explained Charlie’s cavalier quality. He could lock himself out, forget his wallet, change plans on a whim because he had never had any reason to be more careful; everything for him had always been fixable. He could love and love again because his deepest pillars of love remained firmly on their foundations. I guarded love more carefully. Mine didn’t flit or cavort. Once embedded, my love grew deep and tenacious and could only be ripped up; thick clumps of me like earth would cling to its torn roots, roots now exposed and already dying. A whispering voice, an intractable habit, warned me again not to become too entangled. I shook my head trying to clear the thought, as if shoeing away a buzzing mosquito.
[Excerpt Landslide, Page 116]