Lost worlds. Some wonder where the water goes when it leaves a puddle. I wonder where the worlds go, the ones I used to inhabit. People say: “That happened in another life.” What they really mean is another world, because the way world the was at a particular time seems as if it happened somewhere else, somewhere far away. For example: where did Finky’s Hardware Store go? I know it was right there on Old Shakopee Road, across from Mrs. Brown’s house. We used to ride our bikes there, when we were old enough to ride down the hill, and buy things like jawbreakers and chocolate milk. We’d go in the summer when the weather was fair and the roads dry. We’d peddle down the hill to make our bikes go even faster, the wind whistling in our ears. Funny how that hill doesn’t seem nearly as steep now as I drive down to the collection of stores at the corner. A strip mall is there now, no sign that little store was ever there, but I swear to you it was.
Then there’s the cabin at Woman Lake. I went to visit last summer and found the shoreline crowded with houses, cottages they call them, but they were four bedroom houses all steep roofed with big glass windows, and each one had a boat dock. Where did our cabins go? The ones that were small, two bedroom affairs, with musty mattresses and moldy old books, a sofa with mashed springs where we played double solitaire for hours? The cabins we went to every summer for two months with one dock for all six cabins, where dad tied up the fishing boat and we jumped off the end of the dock, plunged into the cold water, only to surface breathless.
I remember one afternoon a thunderstorm storm howled around us and we waited for the sound of dad’s outboard motor to let us know he was back from fishing on the lake. Our mother wrung her hands and told us everything would be fine just before the lights flickered and the electricity went out. All of us kids hid under the beds.
I like to think those worlds are still there, somewhere, maybe in another dimension or parallel universe, and another little girl is peddling her bike as fast as she can downhill and diving into the lake, her skin tingling, her lips turned blue. If that world is no longer somewhere, held in a special time or place where I can visit, I’m afraid I’ll stop believing it ever existed and that there have only ever been strip malls and big houses on the lake. Then, that other world, with all of its sweetness, will be truly lost.