Everyone has a story.
That being said, every story is completely different, similar to that of a river; winding its way through the wilderness while carving into mother nature, leaving marks of itself over the landscape, pockets of memories pulled from the roaring current and deposited along its path. My childhood is part of my story, a profound part of it, in which on a regular basis I look back upon and contemplate where I was, who I met, and what I experienced. Some days I daydream about reliving some of the experiences, hopping a plane and hiking around my old stomping grounds; to see what has changed, and what has survived the destruction of man.
My childhood was no different than most for the first few years, I played kick the can with friends until darkness fell, had epic squirt gun battles on hot summer days, we would put pennies on the tracks to be crushed by the train as it rattled through downtown, I would sneak out at night and hide under my friends front porch, just so that him and I could see what night life was like (at the young age of 6), and I would fight with my brother with sticks and garbage can lids in the woods; in which afterwards my dear mother would have to bandage our battered, and bloody faces or knuckles.
As most families back then, we went on a multitude of family vacations every summer, we would travel across country seeing what nature had to offer. One summer we spent some time camping in the Badlands when the wind picked up and started rolling my brother and I away, still in the tent. Luckily enough, the parental units caught us mid flight, and tied our tent to the truck.
Another summer while camping in the beautiful Rocky Mountains, we were forced to hangout in the tent for an afternoon during a torrential downpour of rain; so, we played Monopoly. As I recall, every single one of us was cheating, as happens in most of the games our family plays. We played games during the entirety of that rainstorm, and once it let up, we were ready to get out of the tent and get back to putzing around the woods. I unzipped the tent to the smell of the fresh mountain air (something I will cherish and never forget, and will always have difficulty describing in text or vocally), and stepped out and directly into a pile of cougar shit, it slurped between my toes, still fresh, hot, and steaming. It would turn out that the cougar was interested in our board games and frivolities, and circled our tent a few times before becoming disinterested and leaving us a present to enjoy after the storm.
Just kid things.
Luckily, I was a pretty good kid and didn’t have many run ins with the law; other than that one time.
That one time being time the house for sale down the block was vacant, the door unlocked, inviting and empty, so we claimed it as ours. The old tenants had left behind furniture, and random junk, we played hide and seek throughout the house, using the back door as our entry and exit point; until the man came. The man came and busted us youngins, threw us in the back of their squad car, and paraded us home that half block. We got a scolding for sure from our parents, but if I recall correctly, the police officers still gave us some baseball cards. Now days, that’d be time in juvenile detention I bet, we lucked out for sure.
But, as I neared my first decade on this earth, my childhood became unlike most kids. My family and I started protesting the return of the Crandon Mine in 1993, marking my first time on local television, becoming a young face for an environmentalist group called EarthFirst! I was briefly on camera during this event, the cameraman focusing upon me, a young kid with a pierced ear, gold stud mind you; while I put my hand up to cover the lens, denying an interview. I recall watching it in the hotel room later on, giddy with excitement and adrenaline.
This marked a new time for myself and my family. A couple years later, my mother went out West to finish graduate school and then ultimately protest more*, my brother and I stayed with our first step father, staying in school and still trying to be kids. It was apparent that things were not going well for my parents, and soon the news would break that they were divorcing. My brother and I were given a choice, to go with mom, stay with our step father, or go to the grandparents. This was far from an easy time for everyone involved, and I’m sure those that are reading this who were involved are raising a fist at the monitor for me mentioning it; but it is part of my story, it’s my comic book origin story, the first step to my self awakening. As a self exclaimed mamma’s boy, I chose to go with my Mom, while my brother made the decision to stay back in Wisconsin.
Little did I know that that one decision would change the course of my life.
Stay tuned for Part Two. Whenever I decide to post it.
*Clarification, because mom reads the blog.