That's what the Harbor was. Maybe even scary. Nevertheless, he was returning.
Rueben Milhouse was going home, because he had to purge some bad feelings. He wasn't going to a high school class reunion. Nor to visit the grave of his parents. Not to see old friends. (They were almost gone. Moreover, most of the ones who were still alive did not live there any longer, anyway.)
Mostly he was going back to just hang out; perhaps to drift the silver fringes of the dark shadow of his memory and experience, walking in the light of some of his more soothing recollections. In other words, he would take full measure of where it all began.
Memories, you see, were not all that good, yet there were a few that soothed his savage depression and dislike of his school-age days.
Lights. Ah yes, lights. He came to know them well, and the wonderful effect they've had on him ever since.
He remembered his earliest days. He was perhaps 3 years old, and sleeping in his house's downstairs den. It was midnight or perhaps 1 a.m. His parents who usually slept in their own room upstairs this time were sleeping in the same den.
Through the den's south windows came a mysterious light with accompanying complex shadows.
The light was coming from the headlamps of a neighbor's car as it navigated the considerable distance down the neighbor's lumpy, narrow, concrete driveway. It created intriguing patterns as it moved past flanking trees and bushes, causing complicated moving shadows on the den windows.
Rueben was fascinated. The feeling was comforting. He sat up in the hide-a-bed, looked out the window, and said, "bickey bickey bickey."
What? His statement made no sense at all...except he had his own vocabulary, different from anyone else's -- when he was small.
Despite the fact that his repeated utterance had little to do with anything, it was something that he had remembered many times over, even some 60 years later.
The memory never completely vanished. Every once in a while when it all but had slipped into obscurity, it resurfaced. For example, a car passed the house at about 2 a.m. one day last week.
Reuben had gotten up to fetch something. The lone car slowly cruised by. Lights shone in the living room windows. Interesting patterns illuminated the window panes. That same warm feeling spread through him anew.
It took him a few moments for him to figure out his reaction. Why was it so comforting? To be sure, he had had the same feeling when a lone car cruised down a road on the other side of a canyon fronting his favorite camping spot. That had been some time ago. Now, more than a decade later, here was the same effect again. However, it was but a few seconds when he recognized why.
It's that old memory again.
So this week in his old home town to just hang out and drift memory pike, he drove the several blocks up Sixth Street, and then down Jeffries to his home where the flowering chestnuts once stood.
Gone now are those trees. Consequently, it was just a bare house... he had to admit his old home didn't look like much any more. Whoever the current resident was, he hadn't done a spectacular job of keeping up the place.
Nevertheless, he had to see that neighbor's drive again and just imagine those car headlights shining in the den's south windows.
It was an easy task because the house itself hadn't changed much. As a matter of fact, it looked almost exactly the same.
Be that as it was, the exercise proved a disappointment. He could not imagine the lights. Well actually, he could. However, he could not see how the car lights had shown in those windows. Yet his memory... Hmmm. Strange.
Depression -- or a latter-day form of it -- began to sweep him anew.
However, with advanced Bible-like wisdom, he had become convinced of a old adage: You can't go home again!
Would this last disappointing experience affect any lights-motivated mood in the future? No.
Because, despite the not-so-terrific childhood memories, God has seen to it that something, at least, harbored for him a soothing balm from his earliest days.
Christ does not want his latter-day disciples deprived of His joy by devilish depression.
God is in charge. Forever.
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