Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Write something AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL (10/02/14)
TITLE: From the Valley to the Mountaintop
By Lillian Rhoades
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I could not view this from the valley.
Atop the mountain peak, I watch the descending of deepening gold upon the horizon. The day will soon end, but the promise of tomorrow must rest in the gathering grayness of dusk; for there is no new dawning until the ending of another day and nightfall. Behind me lays the valley below, a reminder of how far I’ve come, of what I left behind, and where I’m going.
Life in the valley remains a lingering fragrance of sweet memories that I’ve carried with me on the upward trek towards the last mile of my journey. There was Mama’s homemade vegetable soup and hot, giant-sized biscuits that quickly absorbed the newly churned butter before they melted in your mouth. I was five then and little things seemed so big. Especially my Auntie’s porch where uncles, aunts, cousins, and siblings gathered after the biscuits, homegrown corn, butter beans, potatoes, fried chicken, pie that bulged with peaches that I had plucked from the tree, and always bottles of Pepsi, had left the hungry happily satisfied and ready for the usual sun down social. Looking back I often wondered why the rickety porch where everyone assembled never collapsed under the weight of the portly and the rest of us.
Here, in this place, where nothing more than dusty roads lead to paved highways, where the country store was the community Mall, where church bells tolled every Sunday morning without fail. Here, in this enclave of simple life, is where my journey started. Even though I eventually embraced the luring scent of the highways, the roads that ended in corn fields and open meadows of cow pastures, and where a cloud of dust followed every passing car never lost their sweet aroma.
My journey led me from backward country lanes to concrete roadways, vibrant with the thrill of expectations that sometimes turned into avenues of heartbreak and disappointments; that left me longing for the safe haven of the crowded porch. On the porch, surrounded by laughter and the cloak of dusk, and with the myopic vision of a child, anything was possible. I had no idea that life would offer road blocks that would turn my fantasy into an impossible dream and force a change in goals.
The imagined path of my childhood became a dead-end on the last day of my second year at college. I can still remember that moment when I stared at the bulletin board that gave a sentence of death to my childhood passion to become a doctor. I had barely passed every science course, while among my highest grades were two English courses.
It was not easy changing direction from pursuing a career in medicine, to becoming a nurse and a writer. However, my love for nursing and for writing was not an illegitimate child of failed hopes. They were also conceived from the edge of the inferiorly built version of a verandah.
I can remember humid evenings where an extra hour on the weather worn porch was better than trying to go to sleep in something akin to a sauna. From my seat at the edge of the porch, I would watch the fireflies turning their lights off and on. I would look up at the star studded sky and contemplate the vast darkness, peppered with sparkling jewels and all the more brilliant in the moonlight. I was spellbound by the constant cacophony of crickets whose sound penetrated the darkness. Although I was curious about where it came from, I never tired of hearing it. Even now, the sound of crickets takes me back to country roads and the porch. I had just started school, but I wanted to write what I was experiencing. With first grade level writing skills, that longing would have to wait until my Jr. High School years when I wrote my first “published” piece for the school’s newspaper.
The highways and byways have finally led me to the mountain top. I can’t look back because here on my mountain, where heaven and earth join hands, is where I can best view the setting of the sun and watch the gathering of night. And even though the night’s shadows will temporarily obscure my horizon and the valley below, I will never forget the valley, Mama, the porch, or life’s changing courses until the darkness passes over and the Light of a new day shines brighter than a thousand suns.
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