When I was twelve I lived in two different places. I started out the year in Waterford, Connecticut, where I had lived for the previous four years, and went to one of the public elementary schools. I was in the fifth grade. I loved school and I remember loving to read, to make crafts, to draw, and to horse-back ride. I had a lot of friends and many days after school we would get together in our neighborhood to play and ride bikes. The neighborhood I lived in was prestigious, full of all the well-respected families from our town, and it was made up of several dead-end streets with somewhat large, custom-built homes. My house was on the end of the main street of the neighborhood, at the bottom a hill, and there weren’t any houses close to us. Most of my friends would not venture down to my end of the neighborhood because it was so hard to walk or ride a bike up that darn hill. Even on Halloween we got very few visitors.
The house was next to a river and my parents–my mother and step-father–had built a small dock where we had a rowboat. My older brother and sister, and I would go crabbing off of the dock during the summer, and actually eat them for dinner. Yum! There was also had a swimming pool. We spent many almost the entire summer in that pool. It was the typical American Dream home. We even had a dog! The only thing we were missing was the white picket fence. That all ended at the beginning of the next school year.
I had just started the sixth grade, had only been in school for a couple of weeks. I come home from school one afternoon and my mother said we were moving. A car and trailer were already packed with our most prized possessions and my mother hurried my brother and me into the car (my older sister had already moved to live with my father). We were leaving right then. My mother was leaving my step-father. They had been arguing every night, in the middle of the night, for what seemed like years and she had enough. He was becoming abusive and she didn’t want us around that any more, much less be around it herself. Luckily we had a place to go.
My mother and step-father had purchased a two-bedroom condominium in Pinehurst, North Carolina just a few years before this happened and we would fly down during school holidays or for a few weeks during the summer. My mother had gotten her pilot’s license for single- and twin-engine planes around the same time they purchased the condo. Anyway, we moved there. What was so nice about moving to Pinehurst was that my brother and I had been there before, we were familiar with the area, and had even made friends through activities like horse-back riding and swimming. Our neighborhood had tennis courts and a swimming pool and weather was wonderful for most of the year.
The first day of school in my new hometown was full of trepidation. My brother had special needs and was going to a public school that had a wonderful program. I, however, was going to a private school. I had never been to a private school and had no idea what to expect. I had to take entrance exams and fill out all sorts of paperwork before I even got to meet my new classmates. But, when I stepped into that classroom for the first time, I ran into one of my horse-back riding acquaintances. It was wonderful! We became fast friends and spent every weekend together either at her house or mine. She lived with her mother on a huge farm with many horses and we would go trail riding whenever we could. The class sizes were very small at this school, and there were only 12 or so students in my grade. Even though they had all grown up together, they accepted me right away. I spent the next two years in heaven. Coincidentally, her mother was one of my brother’s reading teachers. Talk about a small world.
When my ex-husband and I once took a trip to visit Pinehurst he said that he had never seen me happier. I remembered my way around, remembered all the landmarks and stores, and drove around there like I had lived there my whole life. We even went to visit my best-friend’s mother and she invited us to stay for dinner.
I loved living in Pinehurst! Those two years are probably the happiest times I can remember.