I think my childhood was a bright streak of light, like a meteorite shooting across the sky of my life. Leaping into existence and gone again almost before you realized it was there, fading and vivid all at once. It is worth recording. it has some real Beauties, and some Uglies… oh, but the Beauties!
My dad is the Champion of my childhood. For whatever else he may be of my adolescence or my adulthood, he is Champion of my childhood. Most of the things that made my childhood beautiful found their origin in his imagination and the eyes with which he sees the world.
I see it again as he plays with my son, the sparkle of fantasy that dances upon the edge of my vision as I listen to them talk and watch him unfold his imagination before my son’s eyes… that sparkle that reminds me that there is magic to be found still, all we need do is see it.
Time passes, it slips into the past quicker than we can acknowledge the present and the most significant and defining memories I have are the magical ones. When I was very young my dad used to take me for walks at dusk. He called it the witching hour. It’s that time at the close of the day when everything knows it should be settling in, hunkering down for the night but, just to spite or perhaps in a desperate attempt to deny the putting to rest of a glorious day – as a small child asks for that last drink of water, it winds itself up so as not to drift off. Animals prowl; noises stir up; things get busy.
He suggested to me, without ever saying the words, that the witching hour is really an intersecting of parallels… an enigma, that’s what makes it so interesting. The day things are yet to fall asleep but the night things have been awakened. The light from the sun lingers with hues of ashy blue alighting gently over the landscape while the warm yellows and golds of incandescence spring up and one feels as though they walk in daylight still until a glance toward a window or step into a house belies the arrival of night. It was into these paradoxical moments that he would creak down the back steps of our second floor flat with me by his side to take a stroll down The Disappearing Street.
You see, the witching hour is the most magical time of day. The eyes can play tricks and that which is impermanent can flit back and forth between the parallel realities that exist all at once during those few moments each day. This is when the Disappearing Street opened itself to our waking dimension. It was not a long street, only going two blocks before dumping out onto the main street that ran the perimeter of town, but it stretches the sojourn of my childhood and encompasses the origins of how my father and, as a result of walks such as these, I perceive this world in which we live and adventure.
“I wonder if it’s out yet?” he’d say as we strolled down the sidewalk from our house. His walks were never rote, eyes open to the world (though sometimes closed to the normally perceived events), waiting and patient he would take a deep breath and we would set our feet down our path perhaps to see an owl pass overhead, a fox dart across the neighbor’s yard or a fairy flit in and out of the corner of our sight. We would always come upon it quietly and without warning as we conversed easily or, more often, walked each in our own silent reverie, listening to the sounds of the dying day being eaten by the night. Both contemplatives, silence has never been our enemy. Our feet would stop, “there it is,” and its shadowy corridor under the trees with its slightly unnerving One Way sign staring us down would open up in our path before I even knew where we had gotten to or what was laid out ahead of us. I would reach up his tall stature to take his hand and we would step forward into uncertainty.
There was urgency, even as we took our time. As all good storytellers and dreamers know, without conflict life is bland and even exciting things lose their electricity and fall flat. “I suppose we’d better hurry” he’d tell me to the beat of his steadily slow steps on the pavement of The Disappearing Street, “or it’ll disappear before we’re able to return home.” And my heart would flutter a little at the hint of danger and that danger’s promise of adventure. You see, when we understand that a little fear is nothing to be afraid of, then adventure and uncertainty are some of the most magical parts of life and my father taught me that you can never be certain when a disappearing street may open up before you if you dare walk out into the witching hour.
Written as a response to the Weekly Writing Challenge, this sketch of my own experience is really a much deeper sketch of my father’s soul than a mere memory of my own and I am grateful to him for giving sight to my eyes.