“You know when you go on a vacation some place and you wish that you didn’t have to leave?” said my ten-year-old house guest.
“Yeah, I know.” I said. “I once stayed in a stone cottage by a stream in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, when I was about your age. That is why I bought this house with its stream gurgling downhill. It reminded me of that place.”
“I don’t want to leave here,” she said and smiled.
I told her that I hoped one day she might have a house like mine on a stream.
She was a delightful guest and I shall not forget her. Before she left she offered to pick raspberries. I gave her some that I had picked earlier in the day to take with her, as I thought that she would be leaving shortly and didn’t have time to go out and gather any. When her parents came down in a bit, ready to leave, they asked where she was. They found her in the garden picking me raspberries to replace the ones that I had given her. She was one thoughtful kid.
She has made me think of how memories of childhood vacations, odd moments here and there, manage to stay in some mind folder marked worthy of keeping. I traveled extensively as a child. My folder should be crammed, but it isn’t too stuffed. Really. I wonder what she will remember of my place. The stream, the swing, sleeping in a Queen Anne antique bed by the length of a window looking out on hazelnut trees, the raspberry bushes thick like a woods or our conversation.
I was a quiet child, but I remember a few people distinctly. I remember the adults who took time to have serious conversations with me or laugh with me. Children deserve these kinds of relationships. And really, there sometimes isn’t any difference between the wisdom of a kid and the wisdom of an adult. Each distills some quality of an experience, share their views and the conversation becomes worthy of filing. A child’s view is sometimes so fresh and sincere. I don’t want to forget how to make those kinds of observations. Or at least I shall try to keep delightful and thoughtful kids around me, like this kid, who was visiting and didn’t want to leave.
(I wish that I had her photo. You would have loved her smile.)