The spaces were always more fun to look at and imagine what might be there, than to actually go in to.
I grew up in a post WWII suburb on Long Island. A lot of the houses looked the same and sat on evenly drawn plots of land.
But there were secret spaces. Mostly in the overgrown yards of the few older houses still left standing.
Even in the yard I grew up in, which took up two lots instead of one, there were spaces I didn’t go.
There was my Grandmother’s garden, with a short path leading to the Madonna who was under an arch of roses. There was the bird bath with the cherub holding onto a fish as big as he was. And a patio shaded by twenty year old Wisteria vines, with big, low hanging purple flowers .
I was only allowed to these places when invited. But the magic of them seemed to fade when they were occupied by other people.
There were other place in the yard, which seemed forgotten.
A small row of young evergreens lined the fence where the clothesline was. But I never paid much attention to them. When it came to trees, the two giant oaks, one with the date 1880 carved into it, got all my attention.
It was because those spaces under the evergreens were forgotten, that I found them so special once I discovered them.
They probably took up an area no bigger than 3 feet by 6 feet, but to me it was magical.
Although someone had obviously planted the trees, it was the one place in the yard that still had a bit of the wild to it. And because of the way they grew, they created an alcove that allowed me wonder what might be happening inside of it.
Of course, when I entered that space, I was always disappointed. There was nothing there but the chain link fence and hard ground, where grass didn’t grow.
I learned that to keep the magic alive, I had to keep my distance.
Not knowing and imagining what might be in the space under the trees was better than seeing the truth. Because there was hope in those forgotten spaces, the possibility of unimagined and better worlds.