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Good Old Days
18 October, 2006 :: 3:30 a.m.

I can't remember whether I've ever mentioned this in here before and I don't really know why I feel the need to right now other than to try and remember it myself...

My mom gave birth to me in Corning, NY and that's where we lived for the first few years of my life...then we moved into the country outside of Corning and lived in a small-ish house with a few acres, I think...I really don't remember much about that place other than getting in trouble for drawing in chalk on a sideboard that had been in the family for a long time; my first bumblebee sting...the bastard literally flew past the four or five other kids I was with and landed on my shoulder and stung me; I remember wanting to watch cartoons one morning and Jimmy Carter addressing the nation instead (yes, I'm old).

Anyway, we moved from there to a large farm (we rented) was a big old farm house on something like 300 acres. Time there was mostly ok, I suppose. But this is where I started school...kindergarten through third grade. To catch the bus I had to walk down our driveway which was .7 miles. Not a big deal really...we figured out how long it took me to walk before school started so I knew when I had to leave in the morning. I don't remember liking or disliking the walk in the was just something I had to do.

It was the walk home in the afternoon that bothered me. I don't remember exactly when it started, but I'm pretty sure it was somewhere in my 1st grade year that I started being chased all of the way home down this narrow country driveway surrounded by nothing but forest on both sides. Maybe a few hundred feet after the bus dropped me off, around the first little bend so that the end of the driveway wasn't visible anymore, a pack of dogs would start chasing me.

There was a pipe that ran under the road at this point that a small creek ran through and I used to climb down the hill where the water fell from the pipe back into the creek to continue on down the hill. I don't know what I did there...whatever kids do when they have a chance to play with water and dirt and sticks.

One day I climbed back up and the hill, got back onto the driveway and started toward home and there was an old farmer behind me with a truck with an eclosed back. He threw down the gate and several large dogs jumped out and started sniffing; he said something to them and they looked up, saw me and started chasing me.

At this point i should tell you that this didn't really happen, but it felt like it really happened. It was pure imagination. And it happened every day that I walked home from school for the next few years.

After the first day, I can't remember seeing the guy; I just always heard his voice as he yelled after me and set the dogs after me. The number and variety of dogs varied. They were always big and barking and they always chased me...that's all I really recall. I could see them very clearly in my mind, actually hear the baying and barking, but if I glanced behind me, I couldn't see them. But in my mind I could visualize them being just behind me, sometimes a few would leave the path and go through the trees on either side of me to cut me off.

How did I survive? Invisible barriers, of course. I would be running, heart going a thousand beats per minute, pain sticking in my side and I could feel the dogs gaining, feel their presence right behind me, teeth ready to sink into me, and in my mind I'd fixate on a particular tree...if I could just get to that tree, I'd be safe for a bit. A barrier would appear after I'd passed this tree that would extend out through the trees on either side far enough to delay the dogs a bit while they ran around it. This gave me time to walk (quickly) instead of run for a few minutes and then I'd hear their barks getting closer and I'd be off running again. The final point was the gate that led into our farm...the gate was always opened, but it marked the end of the woods and the dogs couldn't pursue past that point.

Perhaps the best part of this is that my brother, Dan, started school the final year we lived on the farm and, although he was in kindergarten, he stayed all day because there was no one home in the middle of the day to watch we walked home together. Did his presence make me stop imagining the dogs? No. I had him convinced that he needed to run for his life also...I sincerely doubt he remembers it now, but I don't think he ever knew the dogs weren't real. I think he was convinced he could hear them too and he had to run. I didn't really know the dogs weren't real then...I did, but I didn't...I believed my being safe hinged on avoiding the teeth of the dogs and I ran...every day.

The farm was ok, but I don't think it was a good place for a kid to grow least not a kid like me. I was always by myself with my mind--my best friend was imaginary at this point also...his name was Harry and he was sort of a muppety-type creature. I never learned how to associate well with other kids. The opportunities to interact outside of school with kids my own age or really anybody were few and far between. I think it damaged me in some way...or maybe not damaged, but kept me from developing socially? I dunno.

I don't know why this popped into my head tonight.

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