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I don’t have a digital picture for today. My dslr is in the shop and my little digital point-and-shoot was misplaced…on top of a shelf that I put it on. So, I used my film camera. I’m fairly confident that the film will be developed by the end of the year!

I wrote the following while I was volunteering at the Tina Miller Teen Club in Willamina. It sits across the street from the house I grew up in. Granted, the following is all true, but it is a little dramatic. There was a purpose in that at the time it was written. Anyway, the TMTC was once the gym to a school that burnt down in 1979. I remember that day well. Before that it was a one-room schoolhouse. Now it is a place where kids can go to play pool, video games (the big ones that take quarters, but these are free), rollerblade/skate, play basketball, etc. I spent many happy days there as a child and now I’m one of the volunteers. It is a much different environment these days.

There she sits. A plain girl, the weight of the work on her shoulders. She is surrounded by people, yet all alone. She sits behind a desk at a rec center she grew up calling “the old gym”. She volunteers there now due to a nagging feeling that she and her children should give back to the community. Across the street from the gym on the corner looms a large maple tree. Her house once was sheltered by that tree. It was more of a shack, really. Like the one you see Little House on the Prairie where the Ingalls lived. There is part of a walkway that still has her initials in it along with her parents’. Coming back here makes her remember a life she has spent the past two decades trying to forget.

The gym doesn’t feel a friendly as it did when she was a kid. Maybe it’s the lack of Foreigner, Journey, and REO Speedwagon playing on the radio in the background. There was a lot more roller skating back then, too. This was a refuge for the girl; as it probably still is for the teens today. Unlike today, there was a great relationship between the girl and the man who spent so many hours at the gym making sure it was a safe place. This is where she ran when her mom was sick and dying. This is the place she delivered her amazing tuna sandwiches. It’s also the place she slid under a bumper pool table on her skates…with a huge bowl of freshly picked cherries in her arm. This is also where she sought refuge when her mom died. How could that happen? Then her best friend’s 15 year old brother is killed right before Christmas. He was like her brother, too. The gym helped her forget the pain, that is, until it became the cause of her pain.

I have so many memories of the place. One day I will write them all down.

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