My Childhood Sanctuary

My Childhood Sanctuary

An homage to my grandparents' little farm where I became me

What is the most important place in the world to you? That's a very loaded question. It's not an easy answer, and I honestly don't think I can narrow it down to one place. I've been influenced and changed and developed through so many experiences in so many places, I don't believe I could pinpoint one that was the most important.

Still, I was asked that very question as a free-writing prompt. I was given fifteen minutes to write about one of my favorite places, specifically one from my childhood. Forcing yourself to write non-stop for fifteen minutes with such a broad topic is daunting, and when I set my pen to the page, I didn't know where to begin. So I logically began with some of my earliest memories and some of my most dear adventures, and I found myself describing my grandparents' old farm. It belonged to my mothers' parents, the only set of grandparents that were still alive while I was growing up. They have both passed now, and I miss them dearly, but those acres of land and the little white house are still there. The following is a slightly edited version of the results of my free-write, which I hope paints a picture of just how important that little farm was to me.

The house was built in 1901 and had changed little since. Yellow, green carpet and linoleum, which has been torn up and duct taped back in place, filled the house. The ceilings were low, sagging in the middle with the weight of years gone by. The light came from lamps or a single bare light bulb with a chain, hanging in the ceiling. The kitchen had a stove that needed wood to stay hot and a sink the color of rust at the bottom. The attic, where I always slept, creaked with every step. Notched wooden floors and sky blue walls created my hideaway, where the sharp scent of moth balls and must was almost comforting in its familiarity. When it rained, the tin roof sang.

The forest, over a hundred acres of it, was my sanctuary. I spent endless hours exploring, escaping to fantasy lands. Skylar, the white fluff ball of a dog that my grandparents fed but didn’t strictly own, kept me safe. She was friends with the deer and could often be spotted along side them through the trees. But if I was out exploring, she was by my side. With her, I discovered a small cave hidden in the side of the mountain and nearly covered by mossy rocks. She showed me the secret deer path to the waterfall in the valley, and together we discovered the graveyard of cars and farm machinery my grandfather owned and abandoned. Trees grew through steering wheels and old car seats and plows, only the rusty, bent wire framing left.

The gravel drive wound past the old shed with a thousand empty bottles and crates and a teal blue stove on the porch. The way was lined with cherry and apple trees, which deposited fruit on the gravel during their seasons. The trucks, which were parked beside the drive, were homes to mice and spiders and saplings taking root in their beds. One apple tree in particular, farther back from the road, was my pirate ship. I spent countless hours climbing it and sitting in the crook of the branches, watching a completely different world pass by.

At night, after dinner, we would sit on the back porch swing and listen to the cicadas chirping. A dog was always barking somewhere over the mountain and occasionally, a yell would be heard from the run-down trailers across the road.

It was a place where the real world faded behind the simple pleasures of monotony and tranquility. It was a place where old and worn and rusting meant well loved. It was a place where a little girl could be free.

Cover Image Credit: Anna Smith

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To The Parent Who Chose Addiction

Thank you for giving me a stronger bond with our family.


When I was younger I resented you, I hated every ounce of you, and I used to question why God would give me a parent like you. Not now. Now I see the beauty and the blessings behind having an addict for a parent. If you're reading this, it isn't meant to hurt you, but rather to thank you.

Thank you for choosing your addiction over me.

Throughout my life, you have always chosen the addiction over my programs, my swim meets or even a simple movie night. You joke about it now or act as if I never questioned if you would wake up the next morning from your pill and alcohol-induced sleep, but I thank you for this. I thank you because I gained a relationship with God. The amount of time I spent praying for you strengthened our relationship in ways I could never explain.

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Thank you for giving me a stronger bond with our family.

The amount of hurt and disappointment our family has gone through has brought us closer together. I have a relationship with Nanny and Pop that would never be as strong as it is today if you had been in the picture from day one. That in itself is a blessing.

Thank you for showing me how to love.

From your absence, I have learned how to love unconditionally. I want you to know that even though you weren't here, I love you most of all. No matter the amount of heartbreak, tears, and pain I've felt, you will always be my greatest love.

Thank you for making me strong.

Thank you for leaving and for showing me how to be independent. From you, I have learned that I do not need anyone else to prove to me that I am worthy of being loved. From you, I have learned that life is always hard, but you shouldn't give into the things that make you feel good for a short while, but should search for the real happiness in life.

Most of all, thank you for showing me how to turn my hurt into motivation.

I have learned that the cycle of addiction is not something that will continue into my life. You have hurt me more than anyone, but through that hurt, I have pushed myself to become the best version of myself.

Thank you for choosing the addiction over me because you've made me stronger, wiser, and loving than I ever could've been before.

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