North Street in downtown Pittsfield, Massachusetts
Like any travel article, Things to Do and Places to See were listed in that particular article I read so long ago. I was puzzled because I didn’t consider the things mentioned as special. Hiking at Monument Mountain in Great Barrington, touring the Normal Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, and listening to the Boston Symphony Orchestra perform at Tanglewood in Lenox were common things to do. They were usual places to go. They were my old stomping grounds.
It wasn’t until I left home at 17 to go to college, that I took my first step out into a bigger sphere. Pittsfield was less than two hours away, but I had entered a different world. New people, new choices, new decisions to make. Moving to the West Coast after college, my world expanded even more. And living abroad widened both the depth and breadth of all my experiences. With all the newness, came excitement, adventure, opportunity. Yet, even today, when I think of Pittsfield I still feel a tug, a sense of comfort and belonging.
While our past experiences might be recalled as they were, over time our perspectives of them may change. As did mine. Going “home” with my husband, Robert the first time, his response was, “You grew up HERE?” empathizing the here in a positive way. It surprised me, in a good way.
There’s an African Proverb that finishes the saying “Familiarity breeds contempt” with “distance brings respect.” Another from James St. James ends with “…it also fosters a bond.” Both may be true. Although I’ve haven’t lived in the Berkshires since I was a kid, I still go back to visit once a year. Touring these familiar places now, I can appreciate how truly fortunate I was to grow up there. For me, living elsewhere has allowed me a comparison I needed in order to shift my view. Maybe the farther you are away from a place, the closer you get to it’s meaning.
From my journal , a poem written on June 12, 1992:
Seasons of the Past
The chilly autumn afternoons that we sat at the curb looking down Taubert Avenue at the trees with warm colors
The soft cider doughnuts we got at Bartlett’s Apple Orchard and devoured in the car before we got home
The steamy hot chocolate we drank from plastic cups at the Boys Club where we learned to ice skate
The paint chipped sled that took us barreling down the hill at Coolidge Park while we screamed at the tops of our lungs
The soft mud pies we made from dirt in the puddles from our driveway when we pretended to be moms
The well-worn picnic table where stories of the past where shared under the warm spring skies
The 4th of July parade we watched on North Street each year before going to the dusty carnival where we spent all our pennies on games we never won
The summer playground and battlefield where we learned about all of the things that make life so precious.