During the week, from the moment my phone goes off in the morning until the second I close my eyes for the night, my days are full. During the day, I am either on the computer preparing for class, at the gym working out or in the classroom trying to engage my students. I have breakfast with my little one, lunch on the run and my dinner while I am teaching. I don’t get home from work before nine thirty and sometimes not until ten o’clock. This leaves little time for me to chill with Rachel, mark homework, and work on my blog before calling it a night. Likewise, my weekends are full with family outings, parties, gatherings and activities. It often seems that Monday has arrived before Friday has even finished and I am back in the throes of another non-stop week. As it is, my schedule simply leaves no room (or breath) for me to utter the words, “I’m bored.”
This, however, was not always the case.
There was a time, not so long ago (Oh, who am I kidding? It was two decades ago.) when I found myself declaring that exact sentiment almost nightly. This was a period in my life when most of my free time was spent hanging out with my brother and our two friends. (A.K.A. our other brothers.)
Nights usually began with the same round of banter.
“What do you wanna do?”
“I don’t know. What do you wanna do?”
This conversation (if that’s what you want to call it) continued until one of two things happened. Either:
a) We drove to the local 7-11, bought a hotdog fully loaded with chili and that yellow goo they pawned off as nacho cheese, and hung out by our cars singing senseless songs and discussing senseless topics. (O..O..O..an ice cold drink and an Oreo cookie…)
b) We did something senseless.
(Actually, there was a ‘c’ in there too. We sometimes did both.)
Although we often complained about having nothing to do, in reality we were never bored. The endless back and forth of ‘What do you wanna do?’ was more of a challenge than a question. We used the words as an incentive to think up new ways in which to amuse ourselves. As we were (are?) blessed with the mentality of six year olds, this was never a challenge.
A lot of the time we ended up searching for new things to climb or scale. Of course living in a small city, there was no shortage of parks with tall, branchy trees. However, to us these seemed a little passé. We were strapping lads after all and required a little more zest than the average oak had to offer. We preferred larger, more imposing platforms from which to pee. (Oh yea. That was another one of our things – urinating from new heights. Did I say six year olds? I might have meant four.) You see we weren’t vandals or thieves (Well, my buddies did once reallocate a shopping cart and put in on the roof of another friend’s house. They were just playing, though.); we were ‘bored’ kids who enjoyed the challenge of a good climb and a nice view while we peed.
Our evenings, however, were not only spent scaling ladders, hydro towers and tennis bubbles. Thinking back now, we did so much more. It was as if we saw the entire city as a playground in stasis. All that was needed was our imagination to bring it alive. Cornfields became battlegrounds, monuments became dodge ball arenas, car trunks became amusement rides, and playground structures became obstacle courses. The city was quite literally one huge amusement area.
The only unfortunate thing was that the Cornwall police force had no idea what to make of us. After all, four kids in their late teens/early twenties couldn’t possibly be playing squares in a school yard at three in the morning. And certainly no university student would be caught sober in a park playing Frisbee tag with his friends after dark. The only logical explanation could have been that these young punks were up to no good. Or so you would think. They did, anyways. And they were wrong. Most of the time.
Summer of ’69, by Brian Adams, brings me back to the summers with my boys. It was one of the most carefree times of my life simply because we had no expectations: not on life, not on the future, and most importantly, not on each other. We allowed ourselves to view the world through the eyes of children and taught each other that life is too fun to be taken seriously.
Although two decades have passed since those times, I know for a fact that all four of us have held on to our gift of perception. We still hang out in trees, climb scaffolding and pee from the top of buildings. I am proud to say that despite having grown up, we have all refused to let go of the child within. For in this world where our children are pushed to be adults before they are in their teens, maybe a little more foolish immaturity is in order.
Summer of ’69 youtube link