We just returned from Connecticut. My grandmother is not well and time is not on our side. It has been so long since I last saw her and she’s never met her great-grandchildren, so I decided to take my oldest daughter, Anson (6), up north to meet her great-grandmother for the first time. What an amazing gift for both of them. I don’t remember my great-grandparents. I was too young. But Anson will remember this. It will shape her.
While I am an air force brat and grew up no where in particular, my family is from the northeast. My father grew up in Connecticut, my mother New York. I didn’t have a “childhood home” because we moved every three to four years; The one constant in my life was a place called Mystic, Connecticut and a place called New Rochelle, New York. I spent my childhood summers and winters going back and forth between these two towns.
It felt so good to be back. The smell of the sea, the air, the trees and the sound of fog horns made my mind tingle with childhood memories. It was as if no time had passed. But there I was decades later watching my own daughter leave footprints where I once stood.
This is one of the docks at Lord’s Point in Stonington, Connecticut, a small New England fishing village near Mystic where my Uncle Bobby has a cottage.
It’s a dreamy place where families spend their summers and children travel in packs from one dock or beach or playground to the next wearing nothing but their bathing suits.
They ride bikes without helmets, catch hermit crabs, fish for moon jellies, giggle at the sight of minnows and design jewelry out of seaweed. Children here don’t wear shoes. They are free from the daily chains of conformity that we’ve all come to believe make us feel safe and civilized.
I set Anson free–free from her younger siblings, free from big sister responsibilities, free from time, free from clothes, free from “no.” The local kids absorbed her as if she were one of their own. She drifted seamlessly into a Norman Rockwell-esque painting of what I imagine childhood to be.
Watching her memories take shape has been the best part of my summer.
What’s been the best part of your summer so far? Have you taken your child(ren) to a place you once traveled? I’d love to hear your story.