There was this rock shelf down at the creek where the bones of mice rested. My friend, Mike, and I could play for hours going through these bones, making up stories, wondering if the mouse captor was lurking behind the cat claw bushes, waiting for us…
It was the type of graveyard where kids can play without bringing home nightmares.
Around the corner and down the dry creek bed was our rope swing, frayed and hovering over nothing but rocks and sand. Oh, how we loved to swing. We saw the frayed bits as a sign of a loved thing — danger was a word we left home with our parents.
Dream, swing, run and play, these things that filled the childhood treasure chest.
As I outgrew the bone cave and understood frayed as may break and let you fall onto the rocks I found that girls made good friends too and who didn’t want to look like Molly Ringwald?
Leah invited a few of us friends to her place for a party. Her life was gloriously mysterious. Leaving the traditional life behind, her family lived in their RV, spending three weeks in a Thousand Trails campground to move to another local camp until they reached their maximum stay. Back and forth, from a valley to a park, all under the Arizona sun. It was on one of their Thousand Trails rounds that we had our party.
It was hot.
It was amazing. We got ready in their tiny bathroom area, poofing our hair to 80’s standards and venturing out with kids of the road. The recreation room was stuffed with chaos. Noise, play and the kind of games that could produce a bloody nose or two.
Bounce, bang and none stayed down for long.
It was awesome.
Leah wore an outfit that could have been in Pretty in Pink. It was a thrift store find which disappointed me only because I knew it was the only one. I’d have to check out Sprouse Rietz for some pink fashion when I got some birthday money.
Back home again to a house of bricks, secure in the ground. Until the forest called…
Kindling works best when it’s nice and dry, and cooking over it makes for the best food in the world. It was cowboy camping with my family with no bathrooms but the shadows of juniper trees. The pine scent that inspired millions of air fresheners filled the blue skies of summers and I never felt dirty until we got home and I permeated the space around me with the perfume of campfire.
Ramble and vroom we went in my grandparents motor home to get a taste of comfy camping.
The black and white TV played my grandpa’s favorite Ernest movies and I slept on a bed that has no home but the landscapes of America. Carrots and potatoes were peeled in the campgrounds, McDonald’s a chicken nugget feast when we were in between destinations.
It was always world class travel when I got to see bits and pieces of America.
Time to do some stitching.
I could sew a beautiful quilt out of all the ragged bits of fun I’ve had or I could just write a book. So here I am, putting in scraps of truth into a bit of fiction that penetrates deep with the life experience of me and those warriors of rope swings and RV’s. It digs deep into the bloodline of America, passing from the fingerprints of all of us into one giant quilt of a story.
What do you do with your memories? Do you paint them, teach about them? Tell us in the comments.