Memory Remix: The Boys of Summer

In the 70’s, my mom and stepdad were best friends with a couple that somehow managed to get ownership of this big chunk of land east of Broken Arrow, OK. I know those folks didn’t have a lot of money, so how they pulled it off was a big mystery. (This parcel of land was located on the same road I have babbled about in other posts, specifically the tale of my near-death experience a few years later. But I digress.)

Anyway, however they managed the deed, they had it. Maybe they got a good deal, since it was a few years before Broken Arrow exploded into the fastest-growing school district in the state in the 80’s. And it wasn’t really prime property, being outside the city limits, and most of the spread consisted of scrubby “nothing worthwhile is going to grow here” patches, a few trees, and bulky rusted things left here and there that may or may not have been important in days gone by.

So, Barb and Larry (loved Barb, hated Larry, he was a total bastard) dragged in a mobile home and set up camp. One redeeming feature of this land was a pond just about smack in the middle of the property. As long as we weren’t in the middle of a drought (which happens every other day in Oklahoma), this pond proved to be an endless entertainment source for people who ain’t got no money.

Somebody wrangled a paddle boat from somewhere, and us kids would spend hours on that thing, going nowhere on the pond, just circles, but enjoying the journey anyway. When you’re twelve, your imagination is still strong. Everything is full of promise, and dreams. It’s only later, when reality and responsibility have beaten you down, that you forget how to live.

But the real prize, the jewel, was located at the far east end of the property. Back there, the property tumbled into an area that we called “the strip pits”. Another somebody, at some time, had surface-mined for something or other. Which resulted in these narrow (maybe 40-feet wide?) but very deep grooves in the earth. And these grooves were filled with water.

Perfect for swimming. Nirvana, in fact. No maintenance. Nature took care of it. The water was always there, inviting you in.

In current days, of course, we realize that swimming in such a thing is probably not in our best interest. Who knows what kind of metals or whatever were mined out of those trenches. Probably something we shouldn’t be in contact with if we expected to enjoy any admirable longevity with our lives. The water was always intriguingly murky, never clear, this constant shade of dirty green-brown.

And the fish? Yes, there were fish, so it wasn’t completely poisonous, but these were some fairly vicious fish, so there might have been some DNA-corruption at some point. They would swim up and nibble on you if you stayed still, so you learned to always be active. For a kid, this was not a problem. For the slower adults, there would often be cries of surprise and unintended spillage of high-octane beverages.

But those slower adults also built stairs down the side of the trench to water level, and they constructed a big-ass floating dock on the water for everyone to flop down on when they needed a break from splashing around in the water and escaping the carnivorous fish. I spent so many lazy afternoons on that creaking dock, dreaming of better and waiting for the chances to come.

And the piece de resistance? The adults hacked away all the overgrowth leading to the highest point on the cliffside, a spot that was powerful and scary and thrilling. From this vantage, you could leap forward, and then plummet 30 feet into the murky waters. It was terrifying the first time; you might even quietly wet yourself a little, not that it mattered since we were already dripping and no one would notice. But after that? Perfect, total, release. Run and jump and just let go of everything.

And that’s what’s missing in some of our lives today.

Where is the faith in the jump? Where is the trust in the jump? Where IS the jump?


We spend our childhoods slowly learning to be free, then too many of us spend our adulthoods forgetting that we can get away from the fish that nibble if we just keep moving…


Originally published in “Memory Remix” on 08/13/09. Modified somewhat for this post. Trivia: This was one of the last stories featured on “Our Big Gay Neighborhood”, a collaborative site where I had the joy of being a contributor before the site quietly shut down years ago…


23 replies »

  1. Absolutely needed to read this today, gorgeous.
    We fear to jump. What if we fall, hurt, break, shatter?
    Your wordy words made me thinky think.

    With ❤️ as per usual

    Liked by 2 people

  2. THIS IS MY FAVORITE POST EVER. I’ll stop shouting now. Of course, I’ve marked other posts in similar fashion I realize.
    I believe I’m right in the middle of my latest ‘jump’, I’m gonna swiiiiiiim until it’s time to take a break on the dock 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. We have one of those ‘ponds’ at the fur (far in with a Yewtah accent) end of the to the gravel pit. I’ve never spotted anyone trying to swim around in it though, because I suspect the water is probably highly polluted. Anyway.
    And that’s what’s missing in some of our lives today.

    Where is the faith in the jump? Where is the trust in the jump? Where IS the jump?


    We spend our childhoods slowly learning to be free, then too many of us spend our adulthoods forgetting that we can get away from the fish that nibble if we just keep moving…

    I know you were being rhetorical, but I’ll answer one or two…. Where is the jump? Lost to the jaws of the machinery of being an adult. It chews up the faith and trust, and corrupts the enjoyment of a simple thing. Just jump. Might as well jump. And some of us have lost important things along the road, and can’t keep moving, our burdens (real or imagined) are too great; so we’ve thrown them alongside the road and pitched a tent. And let the fish come…

    Liked by 1 person

    • I see what you’re saying with your last paragraph, but the points you offer are just what I’m trying to say as well. We’ve all lost important things along the way, and as the years progress it becomes easier to let the fish come. But that IS a choice. We don’t have to take that route. And I’m just trying to remind folks (myself included) that there are always options, however daunting they may be…

      Liked by 1 person

      • Daunting and way scary. I keep thinking of that movie “Labrynith” where the old woman/witchie construct had all that stuff piled on her, so much that she was literally weighed down with it all. The underlying point was ‘let the stuff go and be free” I think. That movie, despite having muppets in it, was way deep….and it had David Bowie in some of his remaining prime years. A lot to love. Anyway I remind myself of that old witch woman with the stuff, I look around and think “Man. I’m really tethered here.” Like the horse tied to the plastic chair…convinced it can’t move. You have lovely, valid points though.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. An invitation to remember the freedom of those days of youth. The joy of a day spent in a swimsuit, in the water, splashing without a worry or a care. Those come later, when we have to start actually adulting. In my next life, perhaps I’ll just be a kid forever.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. There’s no way to say how much I love this, except that I LOVE it! You made it so alive and immediate. I also say thank you. And confess that the only way I would leap from that height was being under the gun. I had to dive from the highest dive to get my Life Saver Certificate. I still have nightmares about it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • And I love this comment. It really thrills me when someone connects with one of my little stories, satisfying a yearning that has been with me for oh, so long. (But yes, that highest dive can be quite intimidating. Almost as much as the time when I was performing CPR on the Resusci Anne doll and she sprung a leak during my evaluation…)

      Liked by 1 person

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