Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Up on the Roof

The weather is turning a little warmer, and with the change in the seasons, I'm reminded of one aspect of my childhood: hiding on the roof. SouthernFriedMomma recently devoted a blog to truths revealed to her by time and maturity, and she included a nod to the sunbathing sessions in which she and my sister engaged as teenagers, on that selfsame roof.

Chez Airedaleparent is a two-story brick Colonial with a single-story family room jutting off the left rear of the house. There's a wooden sundeck extending from my parents' second-story master suite from which the roof of the family room can be reached, if one is willing to throw a leg over. The house is situated on a cliff overlooking a low plain; on a clear day, it's possible to see all of the farms between there and the county line.

Long about the sixth grade, I realized that despite my fear of heights, I could easily get out on that section of the roof. I also discovered that my father was disinclined to come out there to get me, so as long as I was on the roof, I was in No Man's Land. I frequently studied up there during the next six years, using a Walkman to tune out any ambient noise and as justification for ignoring my family in general. As long as it wasn't raining, snowing, or freezing cold, if I wasn't to be found, I was out on the roof.

Around my sophomore year, I also located my father's telescope. Dad's original stint in college was paid for by Naval ROTC, where he learned celestial navigation. When I was a little girl, he would take me out on clear nights to lecture on the constellations, teaching me the names of the stars, the meanings of the shapes, and the properties of stars themselves. Using his stuff, though, was off-limits, so I had to be a little sneaky about swiping the telescope, remembering to wipe it off when I broke it down so that he wouldn't find out.

It's been twenty-one years since I last went up on the roof with the telescope. Sometimes I flirt with the idea of observing the Perseids, and then quickly dismiss it. My last trip was by way of farewell to a lot of things, and I have long since realized that it's within my scope to hide in plain sight.

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