When I was a girl, the mountains were all I knew.
I felt safe within them.
It wasn’t until I was thirteen when I discovered there was indeed more beyond those peaks.
Life in those mountains was simple.
Full of friends and family.
Traditions, birthdays, holidays were a big part of our lives.
My grandparents were the last of the true storytellers. The greatest generation of this country.
There were no computers, cell phones, digital streaming – believe me, life was better without them.
Back then, it was easier to hide from the world.
The harsh reality of life, and the watchful eye of the Big B.
The only thing I knew about wars were the stories I heard from my grandfathers (World War II) and Dad (Vietnam) although I remember hearing about the Fall of Saigon and how hopping mad my dad got.
The reality of wars was just that – stories.
The Iran hostage crisis. The fall of Berlin Wall. The Cold War.
They were just stories I heard about on the news, or read in the newspapers.
I was safe within my mountains – nestled and buffered from the harsh reality of life.
As I neared and then entered my twenties, everything began to change as I left those mountains to venture out on my own.
And the harsh reality of life came directly to me.
The Persian Gulf War. I had close friends who fought there. Some became part of the casualty of war.
Death took my first husband as I became a widow at the age of twenty-five.
I couldn’t retreat to my mountains. Instead, I buried myself in movies and books.
Where I could detach myself from the harsh reality of life – even if only for a short time.
Love would find me again less than four years later and we moved from the rural community into a metropolitan one.
Here you saw all kinds of realities.
Some were good, but most were not.
It was a lot harder to hide here.
The feeling of being safe diminished.
I felt so naked out in the open for all to see.
Technology soon ruled every aspect of my life and I found I could no longer shake the sensation of being constantly watched.
Then 9/11 happened, and the twenty-year war began where just about everyone I knew had some kind of involvement with both.
Everything began to impact me as my eyes were wide open to the kind of darkness that people were capable of.
The kind that soldiers are faced with and must battle against.
Suddenly, all those stories that my grandparents and dad had told held a new meaning for me.
Instead of being something that just happened to other people – I can now say, oh yes, I can so relate to that.
My family and I left the city life to return to a rural one. Where we hoped to find a new hiding place from the harsh reality of life.
Not just for us, but for our son.
But with the arrival of the Pandemic, and the upheavals and deep divisions within our country, I have finally come to the realization that there are no more hiding places left.
This leaves me with only one thing.
They are what keep me grounded (aside from my faith and my family), from being consumed by all the pain and chaos that have overtaken the world.
Ann Frank used writing to keep her mind off the harsh reality of life – “When I write, I can shake off all my cares.”
Through writing, I found the protection that my mind and soul longed for.
Through writing, I found my new hiding place.
“You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.” – Ray Bradbury.