The other day I wrote about my feelings on outdoor NHL and college hockey games. It could perhaps seems that being so pro-rink, I am anti-pond, but never has there been a man who is more pro-pond.
I love ponds, frozen over or not. If you've spent time on Cape Cod, you know the prevalence of what are called kettle ponds, which are a staple in Buried on the Beaches. In Rockport, close to my house I am fighting so hard to get back, there's a beaver pond, tucked away behind a clearing, which is rather moor-like. I wish to fish in this pond during the warm months, and skate on it in winter. You'd have it to yourself. No one goes there. It would be like your private pond--well, yours and the beaver and his family.
I have plans to stash a hockey net behind some trees, then take it out when I show up with skates, stick, gloves, and pucks--you need more than the one, especially on a pond, and all the more so on a pond set within the woods.
This journal will exist then. These are the endurance and war chapters. But there will be other chapters, of conquest, of reaping, of a man who is as truly and deeply happy as a man has ever been. That is what I am fighting for. One will see the entry that discusses the work of art made that morning, which millions of people will soon see, no one knowing what it could possibly be that he has this time, which finishes with a sentence stating that the thermos is full of coffee, and I am off to the beaver pond, for a hard skate and to fire some wrist shots, and maybe see the beavers, too.
I remember the first time I ever skated outdoors, which was the first time I ever skated. I was three-years-old. It was me, my mom, my dad.
If you came out of our development and took a right, you went a little ways along a road that brought you to a hill. Beneath the hill were the railroad tracks, and on the left hand side, the general store. It was a magical place, this general store, very old, with a pickle barrel, all kinds of candy. A true emporium that sold everything, as it had a century before or whenever it had gotten started, but it was something like that.
Ironically, considering I'm also fighting to get a house on Cape Cod, this store had to move a couple years ago, and it opened again on Cape Cod. I think it would be something if later on I am walking through the doors again, seeing that same pickle barrel that I have no doubt still remains, the pickle barrel I beheld as a boy, and likely stood alongside on that day I first went skating at three, because we went to the general store often.
You went down the hill, eased into a lefthand turn, carried on for a bit, and then at the general store, you took a right onto another road. At the end of which--only it wasn't really the end, it was more like a corner--there was a pond. But it wasn't a regular pond. It was manmade, I'm pretty sure. Ponds aren't big, but this was even smaller. It had a bog-like aspect, but it wasn't a bog. A less charitable person might call it a kind of ditch, but that's not right either. I think it may have had some sort of water supply responsibility. Let's call it a form of municipal pond.
My mother wasn't one for skating herself, but my dad could definitely skate. My mother was out there, but she was doing more of the watching and providing the motherly encouragement.
I remember knowing that it was cold, but i didn't feel cold. It was just fun. I was able to move myself around some. I wasn't just sitting on my rear on the ice.
It was maybe a two-minute drive--if that--from our house, but this was also another world. Mansfield is a wooded place, and that's contributes to that feeling of going away while remaining home. The woods are like that. If you live in a place where the trees determine how much sun gets through, you know what I mean. These places command our imaginations.
On that same street, heading back towards the general store, was some form of municipal building. I don't know exactly what it was for either. Small building. Close to it was a home that had a bus parked out front. The bus driver's home. A bus driver's home. Parked right in the driveway. Not a big bus, but a yellow school bus all the same. Behind the municipal building was the baseball field where I played my first organized games of that sport, if you wanted to dock the backyard games my friends and I engaged in for their lack of formality, though we thought they were plenty formal, with rules and sometimes even a drop cloth hung over a line of string fastened between two oaks that made for the outfield wall.
I harbored a desire to be a catcher despite being a lefty, and it was on this field and this field alone that I caught my only games and got to play my favorite position in all of sports.
There was a coach--a helper, I don't think he was the main coach, but the main coach's buddy--who I thought of as sixty-something-years-old at the time, but I bet he was at most forty, who said to me, "I miss seeing you play first base," like I had let him down, but if this was what I really wanted, well, okay, then. I could pick it at first base, you see, which is most noticeable at that age because every throw to first bounces.
That was an important street for me. Just as my street in Rockport was and will be an important street for me. Only bad things happened to me there in the past, which would have killed someone else, anyone else, but it was on that street that I began to fight as no one ever has, and to create as no one ever has. I sat and I wrote Dark March, Anglerfish, Buried. All at the same time on that street. I became a different person.
It's a street where The Year of Doing Nothing and Everything is set. A novel that will be about many things, but above all, a very different kind of romance and love. One that has never been written about.
Just as I hope and fight to make it happen that it will be the street of my happiness. If I get there, please do not object to what I share in this journal, because it is so radiant and full of joy. Please don't think I would gloating. I have shared my life as my life is in these pages. I have shared what I am as what I am in these pages. Having shown these years in hell, or something worse than actual hell, it would only be fair that I showed the years in what would be paradise to me. I'd simply be being consistent.
A good street is never just a street. A good pond is never just a pond. A good skate is never just a skate. These things are always more. They aren't even what they are, in a way, though they are also that, too. The pond that transcends being "only" a pond is still a pond. You could ask the animals who live there, and it wouldn't matter that they didn't answer you, because a living thing's presence has a way of speaking for itself.
But if you know a good street, a good pond, a good skate, what you really know are things about the world, and truths about yourself. You want to get back out there, because you know what that means. And so I will tighten the laces once again. When the time comes, because I have compelled it to come, I will blow by the beaver, legs churning, pike and bluegills beneath the ice, and the beaver will think--because he would have seen it often--"my goodness can this man pick the corner."
Those will be some good skates on a good pond, just like my first skate was a good skate on a good pond.