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There was a spot on the hill in Dunmore.....a creek set up like an amphitheater......surrounded on two sides by rocks you could jump from. The water was cool and clean and the location was never that busy. Maybe one or two crews would be there but that was it. Everybody shared and nobody hassled anybody. The cops would ignore you as long as you cleaned up after yourselves. We'd bring 6 packs of Rolling Rock and a bucket of Middleswarth BBQ chips and a boom box loaded up with Springsteen tapes and for a few hours at least all the grumbling about how shitty things were and how much shittier they were gonna get faded and we dared to think that maybe this was the place for us after all. Maybe we'd be the first ones to drag it forward and not get left behind.
We don't need much, really. Just some days like this. And the friends to share them with. Home is wherever both are. But those days get more and more rare, chased away by the mundane things that keep the creditors at bay. We fall into bed exhausted, and wake up feeling the same way. Days are spent not leaping off the rocks into refreshing water, but navigating anxiety and an endless parade of shitheads. Youth is gone in an instant, replaced by whatever it is you call guys like me, who constantly pine for it.
All those friends from all those days are gone now.....released into the great wide open. We all had those Springsteenian dreams back then, and we swore blood brothers against the wind and all that shit, but I don't think we ever believed that stuff. Those days were so special because even then we knew they were numbered. Some left and some stayed. Some went into the military, some went out and made lots of money, some struggled, some stayed to haunt the same bars they grew up in. Some got sick and never got well. Everybody married. Had kids. Loved and lost. We might see each other on Thanksgiving Eve or at a funeral or in the produce aisle, do a quick double take, a few words, and then move on. Nobody as lithe as they used to be. Everybody a bit more follically challenged. Each man and woman now a potential novel that nobody will ever write. Long ago we trusted each other with everything. It was hard to imagine that the cocoon we built for each other wasn't gonna last.
There was something safe about it all. People were just as crazy then as they are now, but nobody was armed. We just used to punch each other and then have beers. Drugs were around but nobody got too arsed about them. Some pot.....I remember 2 guys, one of who is now a very successful lawyer, dropping acid in the back of senior English class, hiding directly behind the big-headed miscreant who used to chew Skoal and surreptitiously spit into whatever page of the textbook he happened to open. Everybody just assumed that's what everybody who had Grateful Dead stickers on their book covers did. Nobody really gave a shit. The guys were weird before they dropped acid. Nothing really changed. They never harmed a soul. Hard drugs were around, but booze was cheaper and easier to steal. Nobody had medicine chests full of their parents benzos in those days. And never once did we go to school worrying we could get shot.
In comparison to today, it was like living at Pooh Corner.
I don't think kids have a swimming hole like we did anymore. That needs to be rectified, doncha think?
We're all subject to the limitations and imperfections of memory. As I get older those long ago days continue to shimmer like diamonds in the coal. We tend to exaggerate both the losses and the wins, so I'm sure there's was some meanness back then that I've suppressed, and some goodness outside my door today that I treat like that kid's long ago Skoal.
Cynicism is cheap......like the beer you pool your money to buy when the keg kicks. The more I wallow in it, the worse I feel in the morning.
I'm not sure what got me thinking on all this today. I guess if we're all a potential novel, and writing is one of the few things that makes me feel connected to anything, it's a story worth telling.
I’m glad I have this place.
What say you?
In a bit...