Entry 8/30. Over 1/4th of the way there!
I was a little under the weather today, but I did my best to be clear and chronological and to make this entry at least a little interesting. Feedback and CRITICISM are, once again, very appreciated! I just can’t stress that enough.
We continued living in South Carolina for a few years, moving from house to house within the state. There was a garden home we lived in at one time, a town home afterwards, and an actual home with a real yard attached towards the end of our stay. Some of my favorite memories were made while we were living at the garden home.
The garden home was inside of this small community that was located off to the right of a main road. You pulled in and there was a circle of houses that opened up only at the entrance, allowing for a two-way street. The homes were small and modest, but they looked nice on the outside. There was about five feet of yard in between each home, about seven feet of yard that extended into the back (which ended in a dense forest of trees), and each house had about twenty feet of yard stretched out in front of it. Our particular home had a beautiful tree out in the front; it wasn’t climbable, but it was nice to have and look at. It set our home apart from the others.
About three houses down on the curve, there was a boy and girl Bobby and I’s age. We met them outside just a few days after we had moved in and became good friends immediately. The boy’s name was Jacob, and the girl’s name was Rachel. I don’t know if my mom ever actually met the kids or their parents, but she approved of Bobby and I’s playmates purely based off of the fact that the children were named after famous characters in the Bible. Her stray from Christianity was drawing to a close; her interest in God had been renewed. It would be a few years yet, but life would change very drastically – for everyone in the house – when she decided to fully give herself to “the cause.”
Jacob and Rachel loved playing outside, and we went on countless adventures together. Behind one of the houses down the road there was a large tree with a particular, sturdy branch extending about seven feet over to the side of it. Underneath the branch there was a mattress, wet, exposed, with a characteristically floral design. Our band of friends and other neighborhood kids had our creepy, made-up stories about what happened outside by the tree at night, but during the day, it was a major source of our fun. We would all take turns climbing the tree, carefully maneuvering ourselves across the branch, and then jumping forward bravely – causing the small, short crowd to “ooh,” “awe” and applaud – as we landed perfectly on the mattress. It probably wasn’t entirely safe, but our parents had no knowledge of our activities and no one ever actually got hurt.
Bobby tagged along occasionally, but his headaches had returned recently and he usually didn’t feel well enough to come. He wasn’t really looking good, either. He missed a lot of school days and that caused his first grade teacher to send notes home, complaining about all of his absences. Mom and dad decided that they would revisit the doctor (a different doctor) sometime soon… when they could afford the co-pay.
One of our favorite things to do when Bobby was feeling well enough to go out was to walk to the park down the road. We found a short cut inside of some woods and preferred using it to just walking on grey, white-lined concrete. There was a lovely stream running through the woods, and when we bent over to dip our hands in the water, little tadpoles would weave themselves through our fingers. The stream was bursting with life and we loved visiting it.
Once we arrived at the park there were lots of fun things we could do: swing, slide, climb, and make ourselves dizzy and useless riding in circles on the merry-go-round. We started off pushing it together and took turns with who would finish the pushing. We forced the wheel around as hard and fast as we could, and when our strength was totally gone, the person who had been pushing the merry-go-round last would hop on and enjoy the few, fleeting seconds of excitement that the ride afforded with the other person, who was hanging on to a metal bar in the middle and laughing.
On a day where mom or dad were able to drive us up to the park, we’d bring bikes or scooters along, and then the fun we had increased exponentially. A huge, concrete sidewalk ran along the entire length of the park so that you could bike or scooter in circles around it endlessly. We never stopped until we had tired ourselves completely. I begin to wonder, now, if that wasn’t the goal our parents had in mind when they took us to the park: along with that noble, selfless desire to show their kids a “good time,” wasn’t it just as much about tiring them out so they would relax and go to sleep that evening like good little girls and boys? Sort of like a pet: you want one so badly, you love it so much, but at the end of the day, what you really want is for the furry creature to be tuckered out and content to just lay quietly on the floor.
One summer while Grammy was visiting, Bobby and I experienced our first live ball game. It was probably just a local middle school using the field and enthusiastic parents and siblings sitting on the bleachers cheering them on, but to us, it was epic. We walked along the sidewalk to the opening of the field and the entire scene met us as a surprise.
“What is going on, Grammy?” I asked, amazed. I had never seen so many people at the park at once.
“Oh boy… it looks like they’re about to play a ball game, Rosebud!” Grammy sounded excited.
Bobby, ever on the alert for snacks, spotted a concession stand behind the fence. It had always been there, and we had seen it before, but this time, there was someone in it. With snacks.
”Grammy, look!” He pointed. “We should get snacks. They are right there. See? There’s actually snacks!” He gestured again, jumping up and down a little.
Grammy, seeing immediately that she would be watching a ball game that day, reached into the big, black bag she carried around everywhere and pulled out a change purse that happened to have a few one-dollar bills in it. “Alright you guys, you go ahead and run over there and get some snacks! Ask for nachos, Bubba… they should have nachos and you love those. Get sister babe something, too,” she instructed, handing him the dollar bills. Bobby nodded enthusiastically and we headed over to the concession stand together.
“I’ll be sitting right on the first bleacher, you two,” Grammy called after us, and I turned around to give her a thumbs up sign.
Once at the concession stand, Bobby and I considered our options: we had four dollars total. The sign said that nachos were 2.99. Big pickles were .99 cents, and popcorn costed 1.50 per bag. We were the only people in line at the time, so the guy running the concession stand didn’t seem to mind us taking our time.
“So what are you two hungry for tonight?” He asked us with a smile.
Bobby looked up and shyly told him all of the options we were considering. All of the things we wanted. We didn’t quite understand how much all of it would cost and didn’t know whether or not we had enough, but we doubted that we did. The guy, however, had good news.
“You’re in luck,” he said, bending across the counter and looking at Bobby’s four, wrinkly dollar bills. “You have EXACTLY enough for everything you wanted.” Then he looked at me, looking uncertain. “Now the real question is this: can you two carry all of it over there without spilling or dropping anything?” He smiled and we laughed, handing him the four wrinkly bills and thanking him for our goodies. We walked over to the bleachers quickly and carefully, balancing two bags of popcorn, two plates of pickles and a basket of nachos in our arms. When Grammy saw us, her eyes widened.
“How did you guys get so much?” She asked, completely bewildered. “Did you find some money on the ground along the way?”
“Nope!” Bobby replied. “We had ezactly enough for what we wanted,” he announced proudly.
Grammy smiled and I thought I saw a tear in her eye. I figured she felt bad that we didn’t get her anything, so I said “don’t worry, Grammy, I got this for you,” and handed her one of the pickles. So we all sat down to watch the game, our first real ball game, and Bobby agreed to let me eat the other pickle on the condition that he could keep all the nachos for himself. I agreed and we all shared the popcorn.
“Awe man,” Bobby sighed.
“What’s wrong Bob?” Grammy asked with a mouth full of popcorn.
“I forgot to get a drink.”