Castle by the Charles

The grass that grows along the base of the structure dries out brown and crisp in the hot summer sun. Sunlight hits the stones and reflects in the heat in such a fashion that immediately intrigues me. Walking towards it, it grows tall, taller than my house I am thinking. Approaching the stairwell with excitement, I put out my hand as I start up the stairs. They are spiral and short stepped. The passage upward becomes more narrow and shallow as I continue stepping up. Keeping only a steady pace to reach the top without running and missing the middle. It smells damp and leafy and is a contrast to the warmth outside. My hands touching the walls feel cooler – almost cold against the palm of my hand. Arriving at the top step, I notice the remnants of earth and humans at my feet, against the stone floor. I take a breath and look over the ledge on the tip of my toes, and see only the same. 

The castle as described above is my recollection before the age of six or seven. It is located on an old road along the Charles River. Trees hang lushly above in the summer and it all looks very cold and grey in the winter months. The parking lot sits on the Charles and has changed little over the past thirty-five years, as I remember it.

At the end of the road is what is known to locals as the Duck Pond.

As a small child I would go to the Duck Pond with my mother or father and throw old bread at the ducks and geese. During the day or in the early evening there seemed to always be at least a few other kids, maybe a grandmother. I never noticed anything bad about the area as a child and have pleasant memories.

It wasn’t until I was a teenager that I started to sense that it could also have an ominous feel to it. Metal guardrails contrast starkly and with shame in the cold winter. Dark icy coves of water lay still in the freeze of new England. The first time I walked up those cold stairs in the castle and instead of identifying the smell of damp leaves, I smelled urine, that was when some of the romance was lost. It became less inviting, simply less dreamlike. Reality is, for many it seems to be just that. A cold, dank, hidden dark space in the city. It is transient because of the easy location off of the highway. I was recently told a story about a young man who only shuddered when stirred with his memory of the castle.

I don’t mind so much the reality of spaces in a city, more and more I am accepting the reality of human nature and interactions. While not pleased or happy to hear others painful experiences. We can only learn of each other’s passions through sharing. I am moved daily in my mind to know and to believe in my heart that we are truly never alone. I am seeking peace and joy for my life, while maintaining my commitment to living fully and authentically. I would like to invite you to remember something romantic in your life experience.

Be it a person, a place or moment in time, feel that joy.

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