Friday, October 14, 2005

Joy of a Part-time Southern Boy

This might surprise some of you, but I used to be quite active. Up till my back surgery in high school, I would rarely be caught inside. I'd be outside exploring, playing war, or whatever sport I still had the ball for. I constantly lost various balls particularly my Dad's racquetballs. I’m sorry dad, but it was so cool hitting them with the aluminum bat. The pinnacle of my active lifestyle was the four years I lived in South Carolina. Sure the days were spent behind the iron-gated hell of Bob Jones, but afternoon and evenings I was able to escape to my sanctuary of home.

My brother, father, and I lived in Traveler's Rest a boondocks of a place in the shadow of Paris Mountain. Sure the area matched the southern backwoods cliché, but the freedom and space it gave me to be a kid was wonderful. Living there meant buying grade A fireworks every weekend, riding my bike anywhere I wanted, and playing till we finally relented to my Dad's calls home. It also meant I had the biggest backyard: the woods.

The woods was my acre upon acre of playground. At our entrance to the woods was our home base. My gang of friends and I dug tunnels and built bunkers that served as protection from possible invaders. It also made a nice launching pad for fireworks. We only nearly burned the woods twice. We also nearly burned down our house twice. In the woods we had our satellite bases constructed of fallen trees and abandoned plywood. We would battle the imaginary foes or ourselves depending on the numbers. We played everything from war, to ninja, to zombie, and sometimes the genres would merge. Our arsenal consisted of grenades (dirt clods & M-80's), guns, nunchakus, and rocket launchers (pipes with bottle rockets). It's stupid, but also quite exhilarating to get hit point blank in the chest with a bottle rocket. You proudly display the black mark on your shirt like a badge of honor.

When I wasn't a soldier, I was a BMX rider. I'd ride as fast as I could along the trails that wound along the tree line and creek. Every corner and every jump was hit with the reckless abandon that youth brings. Without hesitation I'd launch myself off ten-foot banks, not caring about my well-being. If I'd flip onto my back still holding the bike I'd try again. When I'd crash headlong into a car I'd dust myself off, patch up my leg, and try again. Why do some people lose that sense of recklessness, yet some have still been able to hold on to it? I miss it sometimes.

On those lazy summer days or quiet weekends, I would become explorer. With no goal or direction in mind, I simply wandered the woods for hours. I'd look for someplace I've never been before, a new tree that's great for climbing, or the perfect thinking spot. Only once did I actually get lost. My brother and I ended up a few miles from home. We came across a farm, and had to take the road back home.

One of my favorite things about living in South Carolina was coming across old abandoned houses hidden from sight by foliage and towering trees. I was even skinnier back then, so there wasn't a single broken out window I couldn't squeeze through. I was like the Eugene Tooms from X-files, only I hate liver and I dressed bette...slightly. I never found anything of value. There was usually a mattress, jugs, and other knickknacks but nothing of real interest. I did though enjoy creating a picture or story of who the tenants were of this abandoned house. I imagine these houses for me are like divers and shipwrecks.

Those four years in South Carolina are a definite ying and yang split for me. Without the woods to release the school day frustrations, I don't know what I would've done. Now, I'm a city boy. I like living in a major league town, knowing there is always something that's going on, and having an Amoeba Records. Still sometimes I get that urge to explore. That's why I have a car.

1 comment:

bobby said...

I suspect Amoeba Records has become your new South Carolina woods. An endless backyard of discoveries. (Did I just get sappy over Amoeba Records?)