I have done something in the last two days that I had not done in a long, long time-- I have gone back to Deep Valley to pay a visit to Betsy, Tacey, and Tib.
You see, I was recently talking to my dear friend known to the Beehive faithful as 'multifarious me.' We were reminiscing about the many happy hours we spent in Deep Valley as children-- how together with our dear friends Betsy, Tacey and Tib, we picnicked on the Big Hill, learned to fly from the chestnut tree in Betsy's front yard, built log cabins in Tib's cellar, payed calls to Tib's Aunt Dorothy. When we were a little older, we walked all the way to the other side of the Big Hill, and frightened some Syrian immigrants very badly. When we were older still, we went downtown all by ourselves and bought Christmas presents. We felt dramatic the night that Betsy sprained her ankle bobsledding. We felt grown-up the night we went to see The Pied Piper of Hamlin at the theater.
I lamented to The Multifarious One that I had not been back to Deep Valley in a long time, too long. And then she told me that I could go back again, and see how Betsy and company were doing in High School.
The glorious news was true. I went to the library and there they were-- six more volumes of Betsy, Tacey, and Tib, somehow overlooked for years. They were shiny in their plastic library covers and smelling just like a Betsy-Tacey-Tib book ought to smell, of library mold and dust and old paper and glue and the hands of countless other pilgrims to Deep Valley. I took four of them home, and fortified with tea and cookies, chips and salsa and a very ripe peach, I opened the notched, ivory pages of Heaven to Betsy and returned at long last to Deep Valley.
It was just as my friend had said-- Betsy, Tacey and Tib were no longer little girls. They were freshies at Deep Valley High, with long skirts and pompadors and beaus. But they remembered me-- underneath the towering puffed hair they were the same as they ever were. I spent four years in Deep Valley, laughing and playing, mourning and repenting, picnicking and singing at the Ray's house-- I was excited with Betsy when the Tall Dark Stranger came to Deep Valley. I sat in Julia's room with Betsy and talked after parties. I made fudge and sang with the Crowd, and Betsy and I plotted how to make ourselves Elegant and Mysterious. I cried with Betsy when she lost the Essay contest. Tib and Tacey and I rejoiced with Betsy when Joe started going with her and we mourned when they quarrelled and Joe went to the dance with Irma. And we danced for joy with Betsy when Joe came back. We graduated together just half an hour ago, and then as the plastic-covered back cover of Betsy and Joe thudded shut on the thick pages I had to leave Deep Valley at long last. I had read all four books in under 36 hours.
It was a perfect time, a euphoric blend of the old and the new, the past and the present, the familiar and the unexplored. I would be heartbroken to once more have to leave, except that I know that sitting on a shelf in the library are two more Betsy-Tacey-Tib books, with shiny plastic covers and the smell of library mold and old paper. I shall return to Deep Valley again soon.