I sit in my chair on a balcony of broken angels overlooking the crooked path leading up to a tower. This place, so familiar to me, looks so different. As if in a dream, my memories lie to me what it used to look like.
That tree wasn’t there. The path never went this way…
It’s been 29 months since I last visited. Three babies could have been born to the same mother in this time.
It looks different, but the wind still smells the same. A hint of lemon and rosemary with a splash of honey.
Last night, I was greeted at the gate by four deer. They were clearly keeping all cowans away and just wanted to be assured I was not a danger to this sacred place.
The lights of my car met their eyes. They winked after they scanned my soul. I meant no harm, so they let me pass. I saw them again this morning as they wished me a good day with a flick of their tails.
A child squeals with delight.
The bell rings. Someone is married. It reminds me how much I miss my family. I haven’t seen Aline for two days. It’s only two days, but she called this morning to tell me she was sick. Covid claimed another client in its pursuit of world domination.
It’s 87 degrees today. I’m in shorts. I’m told Texas in July is unbearable. Texas in April is like Canada in July. Tomorrow, I’ll go home where it’s still early Spring. The snow still snuggles to the ground reminding us that summer is a couple of months away.
I missed this place. This familiar, loving, comfortable place.
I’m not home. But it’s my second favourite place on Earth.
Here is a longer story Rick wrote about that same visit after 29 months away…
I haven’t been to Wizard Academy in 29 months. Thanks to the world domination efforts of things I can’t see, I was banished from the kingdom until we could figure out how to win against an invisible foe.
A lot has changed, but nothing has changed.
The trees look fuller. But the air is just as light.
My Fitbit said I only walked 14115 steps. I had nine more minutes of walking to achieve the daily goal. Tired, I put on my sneakers for a quick stroll.
The wind whispered, “where will you wander this evening”?
I don’t know. That’s the wonderful thing about wandering. You explore paths, both new and old, seeing things for the first time.
Let us not plan, I said. I held her hand and we walked together up the crooked path.
At the back of Chapel Dulcinea, I could see construction of the House of Lost Boys.
In 2014, Roy spoke of this house. He and Pennie gathered donors. Pennie planned the architecture. Governments stuck their nose to make it stink. Regulations, bylaws, and other bureaucracies would have sent a less formidable duo away in tears crying to their mommies.
Eight years after I first heard Roy talk about this new vision for the campus.
Eight years of heartache.
Two years of Covid.
Yet, the House of the Lost Boys rises above the statue of Don Quixote. Raised arms wave in triumph showing persistence can still win.
The wind smiled. She always knows. Solitude with her is sweet as honey.
A man sat outside the chapel. He had a blue sport jacket draped over his shoulders. He was in deep thought with a beer in his hand. Was he thinking about lost love? Or was he nervous? That’s none of my business. We said hellos and the wind nudged me around the tower.
Past the frog footprints, halfway to the gate where food trucks roam, a flower sung out to me.
A simple flower resting among her friends, painted with pixie dust.
Forever changed, blessed by the Wizard’s magic stroke.
The desire to conform, removed in a world of sameness.
A desire to think on her own. A willingness to be unique and remarkable.
I took a picture. I went to Paris and didn’t take any pictures. The moment was as sweet as if I just discovered the ability to fly.
The wind smiled. She said, The flower is you. It’s every student who comes to the campus for the first time. It’s the transformation that happens when you spend three days at the Magical Worlds workshop.
I love this place. And I thank Roy and Pennie for making it my second favourite place on Earth.