In my grandfather’s barn there was a hayloft. To this day, I don’t know how the bales were placed inside. I do know that for humans, or curious kids, the only way inside was a passage called simply, the crawl-through. Because that’s what you did, you see, to get inside, you had to put your arms in front of you, shaping yourself into an arrow. Sliding along in the dark. Crawling. Breathing slowly, to keep the fears at bay. The fear was not about the other side. (It rarely is.) The fear was about getting stuck in between. Stuck in the crawl-through. But, I had heard, once inside, it was laced with a sweet scent of everything possible, lit with hope. If you could make it through, who knew what could happen? It was a sanctuary of dreams.
I first went in with my cousin Chris. He was one year my senior, and seemed exotic. He lived near Chicago. My Uncle Nick worked at the Chrysler plant. My Aunt Lottie, from Kentucky, had an accent the likes of which my Minnesota ears had never heard. Chris was a dreamer. Not like, “I hope,” but more “what if…” He spoke of dinosaurs and Vikings. He was determined, he told me, (before either of us had ever even been kissed, or wanted to) to marry a Viking woman. The only Viking I had heard of was Big Ole. No, no, a real Viking woman he would say. Strapping. She would give him many strong sons. He was weird (in a delightful way) for sure, but I liked that he had a vision.
I, too, had my dreams. They were in words and colors. I held them close to my heart, as if to speak them were to send them away. I needed them. Chris lead us through the crawl-through. I was scared. I was nervous. I was excited. My fingertips touched the tips of his shoes as I followed closely behind. There was no backing up. If you wanted to go forward, or even back, you had to get through. (Maybe that’s always the case.)He saw the cracks of sunlight first and squeeled in his second-hand Kentucky drawl. He climbed to the highest bale. I was right behind him. And I was through. Hurray! The sun. The yellow. The passing through. We had done it. His mouth raced of Vikings and possibilities! My heart raced to my mind and told it, see… we did make it through!
We’re all asked to believe and endure impossible things. But the light. The sweet light. I have sat in it. I will sit in in it again. Hurray, I say, to anyone who makes it through!