I grew up in rural Georgia on fifteen acres of land with a creek. The creek had a swimming hole, with one waterfall filling it up and another one taking the water away. It was deep enough that I could put my feet on the sandy bottom and feel an inch-thick layer of water covering my head. In a few places along the edges plants grew in rich clusters. You had to avoid these spots or else your feet would get caught in slimy, gripping weeds and you might get pulled under. They didn’t let go easily. The water was clean but dark. Sometimes fish would nibble my toes, making me squeal. My pink ruffled one-piece got stained with red clay.
My dad hunted for deer on the land and my mom grew a garden. The strawberries went rogue and started popping up everywhere, on our walkway, in our front yard, in the sparse shade of the tree with the hard pears. I raced the bugs and critters to get those sun-warmed, gritty red berries. We had chickens, and rabbits, and dogs. We had the sound of cicadas at night and sometimes a coyote yipping. The world was huge and lonely but the house was filled with sunshine and the smell of waffles.
When I was eleven we lost the land and the house and the swimming hole and the strawberries to eminent domain. They wanted to use the creek to build a reservoir and our house was in the middle of it and that was that. We moved closer to town with the not-enough money they gave us.
Sometimes we would drive down the country road that used to take us to the house by the creek. I would always cover my eyes. I wanted to remember what it was and not know what it now was. The transition upset me. The suddenness of existing and then not existing never settled within me. For years, I could not look.
That is to say, I don’t let go of things easily.