Saturday, April 16, 2011

An Origin Story

We lived behind a high school and while I was still in grade school I'd sometimes walk over on weekends, liking the solitude, the evaporating blacktop politics, the ghosts of kids, sometimes I'd take a walk around the track, play pretend on the fields, or sit in the empty bleachers that sat beneath the towering wooden poles that held banks of lights — the lights that lit the football games on Friday nights where a few years later we'd appear to make appearances and than cut out, walking along Georgia Avenue toward Country Boy where we'd hope against hope that someone would buy us a twelve-pack of Wide Mouth Mickeys and we could disappear into the woods behind Equitable Bank, a block from my house, and drink and laugh in the dark and learn intoxication while the football game roared in a surreal muffle behind us — once, emboldened by something vague and urgent, I made sure that no one was around to yell at me (it was a Saturday) and carefully grabbed hold of a metal spike on the pole, the poor-man's ladder, and hoisted myself up and started climbing, my small chest all cold, my palms wet and my legs trembling, I climbed spike-by-spike until I was towering over the track and I looked, barely able inside my roaring nerves to crane my neck downward, and could see my house, tiny and inconsequential, a missing piece in a board game, the roof so foreign, the yard hidden by tops of trees I'd never reached, the  station wagon and the sky-blue Karmann Ghia cast-metal toys with bad paint-jobs and now I'm really trembling, terrified that I'd climbed this high, sick with mistake, and from the height and the omniscience and distance from the world I'd craved, desperate to get back to where my dad couldn't fit in my pocket, to where I could hear concerned voices, not indifferent wind.

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