This is really just a continuation of what came before. Something of the fleeting notion of free writing, and channeling the spirit of a young girl who teetered between not having a care in the world and carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders.
For her, the world in 1984 consisted of a few neighborhoods and didn’t go much past North 8th Street. If she could not get there by walking or riding her bike, she didn’t go. A person doesn’t know much about places they’ve never been, which is another way to say, she didn’t know much.
Now, 38 years later, the world is a lot larger. It’s more like the size of the actual world which includes Russia, Ukraine, the Texas/Mexico border, AR15s, banned books, poverty, the rapid disappearance of basic human decency, social media, and huge mounds of trash piling up all over the planet and swirling into the shape of islands in the oceans. Not to mention the polar ice caps, or rather, their melting. Yeah, the world has gotten a lot bigger since then, but I’m still that girl–still teetering.
Of course, I’m not really the same girl because I’ve traveled a few places, had some experiences, and know a little more. Not enough of anything to be of any real use to a world whose woes I harbor in my half-open palm. I’m just one of about 8 billion, with no clue what to do with that. So why not sit on my patio and reminisce about a time in my life when I wrote with reckless abandon–about everything and nothing and didn’t care what it was or what it was about because I knew nobody was ever going to read it. Even me.
Today I was given a license to write freely about any silly topic, whim, fancy, secret, or desire. So far all I’ve been able to write about is writing, mixed with little tidbits from my childhood, which consisted of a lot of exploring around and to the very edges of our territory.
When I say “our,” I either mean my brother and his friends, who were about a year older than me, or the few friends that I had from elementary school. Back before we lived across the street from my high school crush, we lived on Marshall avenue. Well, we lived in several places in between, but for 1st through 6th grade at Lewis and Clark Elementary, we lived on Marshall. It was a flat street in a valley between two bluffs, so all the side streets rose up at steep angles from ours. That made our street the main drag of kids walking to and from school which was only three blocks from our house.
In those days, everyone walked to and from school and no parents dropped or picked up their kids. For a while, my mom ran a daycare and preschool out of our house and was there to greet us when we came home. But when she did have other jobs outside the home, we were what was called “latchkey kids.” I wore a key on a string around my neck. Or at least I think I did. Have I mentioned my actual memory is shit?
Anyway, on weekends and all through our summers we would go exploring. The neighborhoods surrounding us were all situated on the bluffs and once you went as far as you could to the top, beyond that was either another neighborhood down the other side or undeveloped land–all woods.
The woods and I were friends. There really wasn’t anything to be afraid of because the internet didn’t exist yet. We’d walk and walk and knew that eventually we’d be out of the woods in some other neighborhood or we’d get bored and go back the way we came. Until the day we found the edge-edge of the woods; the edge that had nothing on the other side.
When I say “nothing,” I literally mean nothing. It was a cliff; a sheer drop, the length of a football field, straight down. One minute we were just hiking along and talking, and the next.. bam! There it was. We took turns looking over the edge and then sat for a while dreaming up how this could possibly exist here. It was like someone had taken a knife and sliced the bluff clean in half and subsequently carted off all the yellow Loess from the west half somewhere else.
I’m sure we brought snacks because that was half the fun of having an adventure in the woods; preparing an extravagant sack lunch with the best sandwiches, chips, and cookies. The edge-edge was as fine a place as any to break out the goods but, like everything, we quickly got bored, packed up, and started back the way we came, towards home.
To think of it now, it’s a wonder that nobody died happening upon that cliff unexpectedly. I dunno, maybe somebody has. I would not be surprised if at some point between 1984 and now somebody built a railing to protect the young, ignorant, and unaware. That’s how things are in America. Somebody pours a boiling cup of coffee on themself and the next thing you know all cups made to hold hot liquids have warning labels on them. Hot coffee is hot?! Who knew?!!
Actually what is more likely is that the woods have been replaced by a housing development. The top of a bluff with nothing on the other side equals great views. And as I understand it, Loess holds up pretty well so there’s no risk of mudslides or erosion. Definitely a win-win for progress in CB.
It’s been a long time since I’ve been back there, to the old neighborhood. The last time I was on North 8th street, the bluff didn’t seem as tall as it did when I was a kid. It’s probably because the rest of the world has gotten so much bigger since then. For a long time I never understood it when adults talked about the good ole days, but I think I’m starting to.
Now feels like a good moment to have a sandwich and some chippies.
There might be more free writing later, but probably not.