My childhood largely revolved around front porches.
Front-porch life was stuffed with neighbors, waves, smiles, spontaneous conversations, sounds of children playing, delivery men, coffee klatsches, repose, daydreams, and mosquitoes.
On the East Coast, screened-in porches were a necessity if one wanted to linger in summer’s hazy, lazy, crazy days of white heat. And that quivery, tar-colored mesh created a new seasonal room overnight.
It was magical.
And I claimed it as my secret space . . . sitting on the painted mocha concrete, hidden from the gregarious world by a hedge of boxwood. So perfectly sculpted in geometrical angles. It was my father’s pride, as an engineer, to bring his drafting skills home from the office and share them with our landscaping.
It was technical perfection as it rounded a porch corner, and, tall enough to camouflage a tiny girl playing with her simmering fantasies.
Sitting on my front porch in the summer, I would look out at the world through a mesh veil of tiny squares. Small enough to prevent a mosquito from flying in. Fine enough to allow my child-eyes to see through. To see the details of life.
It was nearly transparent, but screen vision left an imprint on my inner lens.
Life always wore a tulle shroud of imperceptible right angles, square snapshots multiplied exponentially.
Vision was defined by bolts of woven wire. A plain weave. A diaphanous wall through which angels and children watch the world. Not yet knowing that life is really lived outside the graph paper rhythm of mosquito screening.
Insects do bite. And vision gains clarity outside the porch cloak.
But as a child, I felt protected inside the porch with its concrete floor and painted wooden side door. And the screens, where windows once sealed a space, now permitted breezes to visit in diced ripples.
I didn’t know yet that tiny squares were prisons, too.
And I didn’t know why mosquitoes were feared.
I was a child designing hopscotch blueprints and diagonal dreams for the asphalt avenue just outside the porch.
I was unaware of my containment in squares.
And unaware of what a vast breeding ground little square porches and concrete steps can offer to someday stoop-sitting philosophers like me.
Yes. It’s always a surprise to pause, take a moment to look back to childhood, and see how that child birthed the woman I am today.
A woman happy to sit in a rocking chair on any vintage front porch and daydream as cotton-candy clouds scud overhead.
Will I ever truly grow up?
Only time will tell.
Time: that faithful, gossipy scribe that records all life’s events – both visible and invisible.