When I was twelve I lived in Vermont. I kind of wish I was making this up but I lived in a house with no regular electricity. We lived off of the grid. We had a generator for pumping water from the well, laundry, and what not. We had gas lights. The gas lights could be used at any time of day to create light, but during the day we mostly relied on natural sunlight.
We picked out a German Shepard puppy, named Heidi, who lived there with us. I also had my yellow tabby cat, Snickers, who followed both me and the dog around and had no knowledge that he was a cat whatsoever. My mom lived there too. She worked doing odd jobs: catering, receptionist for a local gas company, weaving fabric. My dad built furniture for a living. Beautiful, hard wood furniture. He was very talented at it and one Christmas decided to make us a book shelf, piano bench, and a toy box. My brother lived there and he was seven. He tended to bother me a lot and want me to play with him: toy bugs, hot wheels, legos, etc.
We lived in a little town that probably had about 300 people. The nearest neighbor was at least a mile down the road, the last house on the line for electricity. We had one of those old fashioned rotary phones in the basement because it could function on just the telephone line with no electricity. In order to go to the elementary school, we had to drive fifteen minutes. The middle/high school, thirty minutes. The grocery store, thirty to forty minutes. If we wanted to go to the mall, walmart, or any other type of clothing or other useful store, the drive was an hour. It was not fun. As a pre-teen, I spent a lot of time in cars going to and from school, riding to friends’ houses in other towns, or just running errands. Sometimes I could spend two hours in a car in a day just traveling to normal day to day activities.
The house we lived in is one that my grandparents built. They inherited the land from a long lost relative and built the house and the neighboring apartment house with all the spare money they saved up throughout the years. They were up almost every summer weekend when my mom was growing up. They used every spare moment, every spare muscle in making and building the houses. My mom decided that when we moved back to the east coast that we were going to stay in the Vermont house. It was full of old antique furniture that my grandparents had collected throughout the years. The decorations are very old fashioned. But, I still love it there, to this very day.
Across the dirt road is a swimming hole in the river. There is a little brook through the woods to the left of the house that eventually meets the bigger river. My brother and I spent a lot of time playing in both the river and the brook. Frogs. Pollywogs. Salamanders. Rocks. Leaves. We found entertainment in the smallest things. We barely had access to computers so we made the most of the things we did have. My dad eventually built a sauna next to the brook.
I went to middle school in the next town over. It was a thirty minute bus ride. I had eight classes a day with homeroom and lunch. Some of my teachers I loved, some I liked, and few I disliked. I was a teacher’s pet. I spent the majority of my free time reading or writing random stories and song lyrics. I enjoyed my social studies class the most. I was having a great time with my friends in that class and enjoyed getting to know the world. I spent a lot of time trying to fit in with peers. I was very awkward. I was often unhappy in my own skin and did not know how to relate to the “popular” kids. I kept a lot of friends from elementary school and struggled with making new ones.
I often wonder if I could go back and tell myself that the “popular” kids often ended up in much worse situations than I could ever imagine. My twelve year old self would’ve never believed it. My twelve year old self is watching over me hoping that I can achieve more than I have imagined. My twelve year old self is telling me that I was able to get out of the confines that I felt while living in the Vermont house and get a better education than I would have had there. However, my present day self is happy that I still have the Vermont house as a part of my life. I’m glad I got to live there. I appreciate it way more than I would have had I had to finish high school there. It will always be a part of me.