Wednesday, October 16, 2013

A Lingering Afternoon Dream


I ran around doing errands this morning.  When I got home I had a bite of lunch, checked my email and read the news of the day.  Phoenix today is again giving us one of those beautiful fall days, temps in low 70's and enough breeze to send the scent of Asian Jasmine wafting through my bedroom window.

Like the sirens who enticed ancient sailors, the beauty of the afternoon enticed me to my bed and I laid down for an afternoon nap.  And happily, it was one of those rare naps that transport me back decades, to childhood when the skies were never so blue and sun was never so warm on my back.  

I was back in my childhood hometown and was running down the football field at the old Garfield Elementary School.  I was twisting and turning, always moving the waist adorn flag away from my pursuers.  I was running on ten year old legs, no longer hampered by sixty-five year old cottage cheese thighs, my breathing strong and deep, my lungs no longer cancer ridden, no longer abused by pollutants spewing from ten thousand cars.  It was fall because I could smell the wood smoke from nearby fireplaces and the leaves were a golden hue, raining down with just the hint of a breeze, then scooting across the grassy field to be tromped on by ancient Keds and blanketing our fall when we tumbled somewhere down the field.  

As I rose to see the triumphant grab of a yellow football flag, I could still see Jimmy and Junior and my kid brother, still wearing summer shorts, skinny legs akimbo and hair too short to grab onto in sibling rivalry or in play.  As I waited for then next play I turned to look across McCall Avenue and see the church that housed our school curriculum blessed religion classes.  It was also where we went for ballroom dance, a silly thing indeed for a fifth grader.  Just past the church the funeral home was quiet, no death to mar an otherwise perfect fall day.  

My attention is drawn back to the game as I see, too late, my skinny little bare-footed brother scooting past me...and I know he'll carry it all the way as he's too fleet footed for the rest of us.  He runs like a little Indian boy...luckily for him..and me..that he's not a "hollerer, a boaster" of small triumphs...he'll simply cross over the end zone and bring the ball back, a little shit-eaten grin on his face.

We'll run up and down that field for hours on that sweet Saturday morning, grabbing ass or flag, whichever was easier..and we'll feel the pure joy of just being alive.  Soon the drive-in, fully two blocks south of us, will have fired up the grill and sending the aroma of hamburger and fries down our way...reminding us of our own hungers.  So we gather up the ball and the flags and head home.  

The Nelson home, estate of the town's "hardware king" is across the street just north of the field.  As we head home we hear someone fire up the lawn mower and the smell of freshly cut grass fills the air.  
We wipe our sweaty brows on the sleeve of a t-shirt and head home, naively believing that these joyful days of youth will never end.

I am proof of the ephemeral delicacy of those boyhood days as I wake from my afternoon nap, refreshed from the rest, but saddened that the dream didn't last a few moments longer, that I couldn't rise on ten year old legs and breathe through ten year old lungs...and sense the joy of anticipation of all the years to come.  Of taking for granted the simple joy of playing on green fields forever.

I suppose I should thank my creator that he has stored reel after reel of life once lived way back there in my head...and that I still own the clarity to pull them out, to be aired again in an afternoon nap.  Life is sweet and my creator is good to me.


  1. Home run here! When a tear hits my eye and I'm taken back to a happier day, well I just can't put it into words like you do. Great story, thanks! One question, you mention cancer in your lungs? Just embellishment I pray. You OK?

  2. Don't know if you remember, Ken, that I had lung cancer surgery six years ago followed by six months of chemo. As far as I know I'm still clear..and thank God every day for all these bonus days. I do have shortness of breath, especially when I'm doing some hard labor. Am otherwise okay. Thanks for your concern.

  3. Well Congratulations for that! The Doctor's seem to be getting quite a bit better with cancer. My Mom is a two time cancer survivor and has stayed with us for more than twenty years since the last flare up. You are on to a very long and happy life entertaining me with your great stories told in a way only you can do it! I will thank the good Lord for that too.

  4. Thanks, Ken..for the good wishes and for the kind words.