Saturday, February 19, 2005

The S. S. California

what kind of a lullaby are katydids?
which soothing sleep CD will you find the gentle roll of rusted metal dock braces creaking back and forth, clicking just off beat from every other sound?

when i was growing up, evan and i shared a room.
there were four bedrooms in our house: three upstairs, one downstairs.
the one downstairs was my grandpop's room. it smelled like him, and had that dark yellowy light to it. it smelled like lemon-fresh dust cleaner and it always had a silver and red flashlight ontop of its bureau.

the one upstairs was a guest room, where we would put on puppet shows with socks and handpuppets with no lining, so the inside of the fabris felt scratchy against our childish minds and skin.

the other two upstairs were my mom and dad's, and evan's and mine.
evan and i had matching beds. until dad built us a bunk bed. the bunk bed was light blue, and it had a ladder we used to pretend was a letterslot. at least i used to pretend it was.
we never had a letter slot.

we had matching desks and bookcases.
we used to sit at them, on opposite sides of the room, doing homework. and in the summer my mom made us do homework. it was like summer home school. we would do work for a while, then go outside and make mudpies with katie adie.

that's right, i knew a girl named katie adie. this was before girls got all icky and developed terminal cases of cooties. this was a friend. she lived on the meadow road.
i suppose it was called that because there was a meadow on it at one point. now there are only houses stuck in 1959, the kind of houses people live in in the summer, smelling of wood and an air of perennial suitcases.
i used to call it the 'metal road'
i didn't know any better

katie had a badmitton net behind her house. she was the one that taught me how to put the birdie on the racket, and toss it up in the air to serve it.

whenever i sit at home in the summer now, i can't hear the katydids any more.
it's a cliche, but it's like the polar express.
i sit and listen, but even the creaking of the docks isn't as loud as i remember it.

the whole point about the rooms was, as we got older and lee was born, i moved into the guest room, and evan and lee shared a room. then when grandpop didn't come up anymore i moved into his room.

i would lie awake in my bed, reading, with the windows wide open, and i could hear the roar of katydids and docks.

i think the lake is getting old. it's getting old and there's too much for it.
it can't make waves like it used to, so the docks don't creak like they used to.

everyone always asks me, when they finally believe that the lakeshore was twenty feet from my front porch, 'wow, so was it like dawson's creek? did you have a rowboat? did you row to your friend's houses?'

of course we had a row boat. we called it the pram.
it was sort of square shaped
we also had a sunfish, and a ski boat.

and no, it wasn't like dawson's creek.
out of all the friends i made in middle and high school, none of them lived on the lake. everyon e had a boat somewhere, everyone we skiing and jetskiing and seadooing and everyone had a beach, but everyone's houses weren't on the lake.

it would have been so much cooler. but no, i was the only one.

i've always wanted to fly over the lake at night. you could see the shape of it, outlines by orange sulphur lights on beaches. it would be an orange-gold silhouette.
i desperately want to see it.

you could imagine, me living within sight of epply island, how much books like tom sawyer and huckelberry finn spoke to me.

i tried to build a raft one year
i got a book for it and everything
then my mom said it wouldn't be safe, boats would run me over

so hadyn and i found an old walkway plank that floated up on shore one day, and we used to sit on it, and capsize it, and see who could stay under longer.

we would also build boats and race them down the creek. his was the ss california. i don't remember what i named mine except i was jealous because his name was better.

since i lived in northeastern pennsylvania, right on a huge body of water (60ft. deep, 52 mis. of shoreline, 1 mi. at the widest and 7 mis. at the longest parts), i had a taste of new england few middle classe pennslvanian families did. it was IN me. all these people would come from NJ or NY or new england, and vacation there.

they all had white shorts.
they all wore dock shoes.
they all had izod and dockers.

for some reason, clamps and ropes and sailboats are anchored in my mind, and it compells me.

you never know how beautiful autumn can be until you're driving home on the schoolbus right before halloween, and all you see looking up simon's hill is YELLOW, GOLD, RED, CRIMSON, BURGUNDY, and ORANGE.

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