thin veil over the magical kingdom

There’s a thin veil between the storybook version of “Mayberry” (my pretend name for Claiborne) and the harsh light of day.

An 18 year old young man was found dead on the side of the road yesterday morning, just 3 short miles from where I woke.

My neighbor saw his body under the white sheet the police used to cover him on the grass.

They say that his body may have been moved from one of Mayberry’s roads a mile away – a road I walked hundreds of times, cheerfully counting my blessings, watching birds, smelling the seasons, picking up trash.

It’s beyond shocking. My heart aches for his family, friends, for our entire community.

June is that time of year when bad things happen to young people. Car crashes usually, after graduation parties.

This one appears to be murder. In time, we may learn what happened. I doubt anyone could ever tell us why.

My (hometown sort of) newspaper columnist, Bill McClellan of the St. Louis Post Dispatch published a story yesterday called The Fragility of Magical Kingdoms, about current events at a City charter school, in which a beloved principal was ousted, despite the powerful pleading of the school community. The column was brilliant, and paints that school community as a magical kingdom that – like all magical kingdoms, was doomed to outside forces working against it.

McClellan’s column ends like this:

“The other lesson is the fragility of magical kingdoms. If you have been lucky enough to be in one, you know what I mean. They seem like they will go on forever. But the world is not hospitable to magical kingdoms. All sorts of forces are working against them. From the inside, you don’t see the end coming. But come it does.”

This morning, as I lay in bed and wonder about the hundreds of Talbot County neighbors waking to the nightmare of losing a beloved 18 year old, I can’t help but wonder about our magical kingdom.

The “land of pleasant living” isn’t, today.

Doomed to outside forces working against it? I hope not.

I’m still a believer.

fallen rose petals

~ by kbosin on June 11, 2013.

9 Responses to “thin veil over the magical kingdom”

  1. Great post.

  2. Wow, I am stunned. We too live in Mayberry and have had a similar shock. I grieve for the loss of the boy and the happy feeling.

  3. What a terrible thing to have happened – thank you for posting, appreciate your perspective & as always this is so well-written. There has been a lot of this over the past year or so here on Kent Island, from Robin Pope’s disappearance to the four Kent Island High School students killed in a car crash in April. Maybe it sounds jaded, but I don’t believe there is such a thing as a Magical Kingdom or Mayberry. Of course I would like to raise my kids someplace safe, but I believe that good & bad things happen at any time, to anyone, anywhere. There can be very sinister things (racism, bullying, drug use) happening beneath the surface in supposedly “idyllic” places. We are all people and we all have the same problems, unfortunately – the human condition is universal. The positive is that the true community really shows its strength & bands together after things like this happen. This perspective also does not rule out community, helpfulness & beauty in supposedly “bad” (i.e. more cosmopolitan) places, like Chicago’s South Side or Washington DC (where I have also lived).

  4. I am so, so sorry to hear that – how shocking. Prayers all around…

  5. Kathy, a sad post, and an interesting perspective to read as a native. Growing up here, I’ve always been aware that like any other place, our beloved Eastern Shore is not protected from the darker machinations of circumstance. Bad things happen here. Maybe not to us, or our friends, but they do happen- just with less frequency since our communities are smaller and have less people. It is easy to be lulled into a sense that our piney woods, marshes, and little towns are safe harbors in the middle of a crazy world and are somehow removed from harsh realities. But the “Mayberry-fication” concept is a false one – just false as the tv Mayberry. I think it does us a disservice as community members, and the Eastern Shore, to think that way. I also think it can be a frequent mindset (hope?) newcomers have, as they escape from their lives elsewhere and relocate to a small town. The reality is we can’t escape these tragedies, no matter where we go. Regardless of how idyllic our homes, our friends, our location may be. We accept this as part and parcel of our humanity- and through that acceptance, allow ourselves a clearer, more true understanding of the places where we live.

  6. Agree, Eastern Babe and Kate, and thank you so much for your comments. It’s with a heavy heart that I consider the layers of magical kingdoms – and it’s not just this place, which does seem to newcomers as far away and protected as a 1950s television show. We all experience the piercing of the bubble so out of the blue that it shocks to your core. For me – the feel of the cold metal gun pressed against my ribs as I walked down that street in St. Louis, in the neighborhood I thought was so cool and friendly. Or the way everything changed after the car accident, and my sense of safety inside automobiles shifted forever. Yet part of me requires a belief in the magic, in the safety, in goodness and comfort. It seems that the only place that magical kingdom really lies is within the shared relationship of community – friendship, brotherly love and caring for each other. I trust that the family who lost their precious son will be surrounded by that magical kingdom. I know all of us in this county will hold this sorrowful event in our hearts forever. Pop goes the bubble, but I’m still looking for magic wherever I can find it.

  7. Thank you, Kathy, for your compassion and belief in hope, despite cruel realities.


  8. I second Anne’s comments… I believe in Mayberry and love and the magical kingdom no matter what happens…

  9. Hope you received my comment on your recent photo.

    Claiborne’s new story deserves mention, for it is of a community who demonstrates what neighborhood means and more.

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