When I was seven, my mom married my stepfather and we all moved to Middle-of-Nowhere, VT, pop. 700. My mailing address was Chelsea G. Summers, Middle-of-Nowhere, VT O5555. Were you to have sent me a postcard, it would have gone to a post office about the size of my current bedroom. I would have walked the half-mile to the boudoir-sized post office to pick up said postcard, and if you’d sent it to me after the age of nine, I would have done so with a large St. Bernard padding along beside me.
My family lived in a converted two-room schoolhouse. Initially, we only rented the right half, but then the grandmother of my mom’s high school friend sold the house to my parents, and we had the whole drafty, poorly renovated hydra-house, and sometimes rented out the left half. To the exact right of us lived an old German couple in an old American farmhouse. To the left and behind us rolled out a carpet of farmland, a sometime home to a herd of Holsteins, and in the spring, many frogs who sang their guttural songs about eggs and flies and the pain of pollywogs and other chthonic frog songs. Beyond the field was a bilious green house owned by a family named Moody. They shared our party phone line. Mrs. Moody drew on her eyebrows. The Moodys had gun racks made out of deer hooves, the deers’ little hooves pointed eternally up, ironically bearing the method of their own destruction.That house always smelled like the bottom of a grease can.
In front of us was a wide ribbon of field. White in the winter, green in the summer and brown the rest of the year, the field unfurled to a river. On the other side of the river were more hills, a string of houses that at night lit up like Christmas lights, and a big red barn where square dances were held. Women went to there dressed in poufy little skirts held aloft by crinolines ethereal as mounds of egg whites. Men wore string ties. I imagine that on Sunday nights these people watched Hee-Haw and enjoyed it.
To the far right, beyond the German couple’s home, beyond the sliver of woods behind and the evanescent pond before, a pond that sometimes froze in the winter and the local boys would play hockey, and I would skate alone thinking of Dorothy Hamill, beyond all that lay our local graveyard.