A Walk Down Memory Lane (Or, Where the Inspiration Comes From)

Recently, I took a short trip “back home” to visit my family in Rochester, New York, where I was born and spent the first two-and-a-half decades of my life.  Only . . . “Rochester” is too general.  I stayed at the old house, the house where my father still lives, where I grew up, where I spent a childhood and adolescence living and learning, and dreaming.

Rochester, New York - Wikipedia


Mostly dreaming.  I was an introvert growing up (and still am), and I spent a good portion of my time “elsewhere” in my mind.  I’d go out into the backyard and hit the Wiffle ball, pretending to be participating in the World Series.  I’d create lineups, do play-by-play, and even keep statistics.  Or I’d head out to the driveway and shoot baskets.  My parents had a hoop attached just above the garage.  The gutter that lined the garage bore the brunt of numerous misfired shots–by me, my friends, my brothers–you name it.  Even today, though the hoop is long gone, that gutter still wears its decades-old battle scars.  Other times, I’d go down into the basement and spend hours writing in the cool, dimly lit space, escaping the heat and humidity of summer days.  The common theme was–a lot of solitary activities, sequestering myself away from others, content to create an alternate universe, as it were, one as boundless as my imagination, with no limits and no restrictions.

The Wiffle Ball, Inc. - Official Site


That’s not to say I was always alone!  I often got together with my neighborhood friends, some of whom were the real-life inspirations behind the protagonists in The Eye-Dancers.  We’d do all manner of things throughout the year, but especially during summer.  We’d even have sleepovers, in my basement, that same space in which I spent so much time on my own.  I’d tell them of the ghosts and vampires that lurked in the shadows, under the stairs, in the crawlspace.  I was so convincing, I avoided going down there alone after sundown!  My solo basement adventures were exclusive to times when the sun was up and streaming through the cellar windows.  To be down there at night, I needed the company of my friends.

Soundbytes: Pop Music's 5 Best Vampire Songs | Wisconsin Public Radio


In the main, however, I was a loner.  Though often by myself, I never felt “lonely.”  There was always so much going on in my imagination, so many story plots being concocted, so many “out-there” scenarios playing across the movie screen of my overactive and fanciful mind.  And these flights of fancy did not occur only within the confines of the house.  No, indeed.

I would take walks through the neighborhood, sometimes for hours.  I’d go far afield at times, several miles out, walking, observing, saying hi to the cats and dogs that sometimes would follow me for a block or two.  I’d look at the houses, the architecture, especially examining the older abodes.  Two stories, with rotting shingles, mature oak trees and maple trees, and surely full of memories and experiences lurking within their walls, these houses never failed to capture my attention.  Sometimes I’d stand there on the sidewalk, just looking at the house, a corner of the yard, a specific tree or bush.  More likely than not, people inside probably watched me and wondered what the odd boy on the sidewalk was doing, and what he was staring at.  No one ever came out to interrogate, though.

Toronto seeks to save oak tree older than Canada | CTV News


Numerous story ideas were born on those walks.  Potentialities, possibilities, hauntings, evil, goodness, all manner of things would percolate in my mind, to the point where, often, when I arrived back home, I would whip out my old-school pencil and paper and jot down notes, or even dive right in to the story proper.

When I visited the old house, the old neighborhood, earlier this month, I took a long walk.  It was along the same route as some of my childhood walks.  Some things had changed.  Some of the houses–especially the ancient, haunted ones (or at least what I always told myself were haunted)–were gone, replaced by newer, more sterile homes.  Much of the neighborhood remained unchanged, however, and as I walked through the interlocking streets, it felt as though I were walking through time, my steps commingling with those of my younger self.  Memories swirled, regrets.  Joys.  And when I returned to the house, I whipped out a pencil and some old-school notebook paper, and jotted down a few new story ideas.

Meet the Andromeda galaxy, the closest large spiral | Astronomy Essentials | EarthSky


Works every time.

Thanks so much for reading!


10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Cindy
    Jun 30, 2021 @ 13:52:28

    THAT TREE!!!!!! 😳 WOW!


  2. ritaroberts
    Jun 30, 2021 @ 17:43:40

    Hello Mike, It is so strange how we all look back on our childhood days where some of our memories never leave us. and fortunately for you the result was you became a wonderful author whose stories we all enjoy. When I was a young girl and visited my grandmother I was always mooching as they called it in those days my eyes always on the ground looking for any old thing I could find..Little did I realize at the time this was the first stages of becoming an archaeologist which I did but now retired. I have always been of the opinion that our lives are mapped out for us. Keep writing your stories Mike We love them.


    • The Eye-Dancers
      Jul 04, 2021 @ 10:41:30

      Thanks so much, Rita! And I agree–we each definitely have a destiny. However, I wonder if we have a destiny that is “meant to be” but still dependent on our choices and our free will. In some ways, maybe both things are happening at the same time, as Forrest Gump said?:) In other words, there is a path for us, predestined, for lack of a better term . . . but we still need to choose that path. We can reject it through our choices. But I absolutely agree that there are aspects about us and our lives that are meant to be.


  3. joannerambling
    Jun 30, 2021 @ 22:07:21

    A wonderful post, I spent a lot of my childhood and later life lost in my own thoughts


  4. Lyn
    Jul 01, 2021 @ 10:05:27

    As an only child with really old parents – they were old when I was born (42 and 60) there was no chance for siblings. Friends were few and far between mainly because the other kids thought I was strange. My imagination ranged far and wide and my mother didn’t like the idea of me writing strange stories. My father however, brought me a new book every two weeks and taught me woodworking and invisible writing using lemon as ink 😄


    • The Eye-Dancers
      Jul 04, 2021 @ 10:45:34

      Hi Lyn! That is a wonderful story of your childhood–and it sounds like your father really encouraged your imagination and creativity. It makes me think of my mother, who used to read to/with me when I was toddler, all the time. My earliest memories are of her reading with me. No doubt, that planted a seed of a love of the written word at a very young age.


  5. Rilla Z
    Jul 05, 2021 @ 14:01:17

    Yes, the “haunted” homes get replaced with the “sterile” ones. That is a significant change I notice when I go home, too. Glad you were able recharge your inspiration!


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