I have not written in quite awhile. It’s still a daunting task, although completely of my own making, to write and the potential of many seeing what I see. Laughable. There are very few who read this, I know. But one never knows. I have to write about the vacation – the stories, the fun, the not-so-fun. I shall get to it soonly. I’m drinking the few remaining sips from my mug before I adjourn to work, alone in my small corner of the world. Things to forget, things to remember, things to write down. Tasks, tasks that keep coming.
It’s officially summer. Summer has no meaning anymore, not as it once did when I was 9 and 10 and 11 — when summer meant no homework, no work other than a few chores. No more months on end of playing outside, without even the slightest thought about getting a deep tan or healthy glow. Of standing along the fence of our neighbors yard, glancing longingly at their pool hoping to be invited into their frigid waters. Bouncing on a diving board so stiff it nearly breaks your legs when you dive. Sleep-overs at friends houses; staying up late watching movies we’d not be allowed to watch at home. Playing Atari till our thumbs were numb and atrophied and useless appendages — Pitfall, Barnstorming, Dig Dug, E.T. (and on and on). Playing “war” through the trees and grasses with our cap guns and belts and accoutrements that we imagined real soldiers and fighters might need. Riding bikes to the woods at the edge of the neighborhood and walking down to the creeks to catch frogs and run from strange noises — ducking in and out of rays of sun. Of sleeping in and getting up to watch cartoons, Land of the Lost, The Great Space Coaster, New Zoo Review.
Everyday was like Saturday morning, the days lasted forever. We never tired. We came indoors only for some fresh (powdered) Kool-Aid. Sweaty and matted down with dirt and dust from rolling around avoiding enemy fire, riding miles and miles to nowhere. Fourth of July fireworks in the backyard and staying up till the sun went down. Dad holding a Roman Candle in his hand — arm aloft like Moses — and laughing, then tossing BlackCat firecrackers onto the patio, as we held our Sparklers and lit the smoke bombs and (lame) snakes. Cannonballs contests in the University of Delaware pool.
The unspoken fear of the deep end and that Jaws is there, hidden somewhere waiting to grab you and drag you under. And the one time when I peed on the diving board. On the drive home, looking at the world through a fog of eyes burned from chlorine. Being awoken in the early morning to drive to Disney World. Sleeping in the back of the station wagon – no seat belts or things to strap me into place. As I lay, my heart beating faster, anticipating a hotel room, and eating out, of riding Space Mountain or Pirates of the Caribbean, and discovering the new rides and attractions since our last visit. The smell of somewhere else, another state, another place. Barbecues and hamburgers and food made outside, corn on the cob dripping with butter and getting stuck in my teeth. Long lost relatives popping in for a day, telling me how much I’ve grown, “what a big boy”, and how I was “this small” when they saw me last. Of my parents old friends coming for a few days with their kids, who we see once a year, and trying to find something that we could play together. How cool I thought they were, and wished they were the relatives we saw more often, then the ones we were required to visit on holidays. Stray dogs wandering to our yard, somehow instinctively (or by word of mouth) knowing they’d find food, shelter, and a happy transition to a better life.
The neighborhood boys two houses down, riding their dirt bikes in their yard in the early morning. Flying through the air on their homemade courses. Feeling they were dangerous and unapproachable, faceless and nameless, the coolest guys in the world. Riding miles, alone with my friends (no parents hovering or fearing that we might be kidnapped) on my red, 10-speed Schwinn to Kemblesville down New London Road – no sidewalks or bike lanes, but open to every passing car — to Wawa for a Slurpee and Big League Chew. Skinning my knees occasionally along the way. Collecting “Wacky Packs” and laughing at cards that we didn’t understand but knew were beyond our age and somewhat “forbidden”. Climbing trees and daring one another to pee of the side onto a passing car.
Pretending to be Han Solo or Luke Skywalker (our bikes as our X-Wings fighters and long rods as our lightsabers). On rainy days playing with our action figures inside (I had the Millenium Falcon my friend Patrick had the coveted AT-AT). Exploring the construction of new homes, jumping into basements with no stairs, balancing on beams and struts. Wanting to pick up tools and build the walls and hammer the nails, somehow never maiming ourselves on rusty nails. I suppose it would be folly to try and go back again, as an adult with the shade of responsibility and caution. Where the exploratory world of pretend is constricted to art and movies. Now just the feeling and reminiscing of summer remains, like so many things when you get older — so much looking back.