(I want to apologize in advance for any cheesiness that abounds, which I’m sure will happen. Just thinking “aloud,” as usual… Also, I use parentheses quite a bit. Sorry.)
As we get older, we tend to romanticize things — we, of course, being people in general. Perhaps the royal we?
Anyway, but one of my very fondest memories from the tumult that was middle school and most of high school is from the summer of 2003, the summer after my eighth-grade graduation and before my ninth-grade year of high school.
My “boyfriend” at the time (who, coincidentally, works at the bowling alley where I’m spending more of my Thursdays; boyfriend is put in quotes because it wasn’t really a relationship so much as it was being friends but with holding hands) was helping his father out with some kind of camp at the Jeff State park. They did mostly archery — actually, it may have been an all-archery camp, I don’t remember, maybe I’ll ask him one day when he’s inevitably fixing a lane — but his dad pretty much singularly ran it, so it gave us a lot of time to hang out.
The fondest memory particularly is walking through fields and fields of tall grass (tall being knee-high at the highest point, really I’m talking ankle grass for the most part though). Getting itchy grass on our sweaty legs, rolling down hills much like in The Princess Bride (except the falling on top of each other bit, which could’ve been awkward — actually, it most definitely would have been since I never even kissed him), swatting at bugs, climbing random bleachers around the ball park, dropping found batteries off the bleachers (I don’t know why), listening to my Walkman with its separate headphones — these were the days.
I even realized it then, loving the days and the walks through the fields that would make my leg muscles ache and twitch afterward, but would feel so amazing. And recently I realized it’s been entirely too long since I’ve done that. I’ve never been much of a “girly-girl”; that is, I rarely wear makeup, and when I do, I always end up rubbing half of it off because I’m so unused to it; I don’t mind getting my hands dirty; I enjoy mowing the lawn, and so on and so forth, blah blah. I don’t think I’ve gotten prissy, either, so that’s not it.
Oh, yeah. The internet. Many times I find myself browsing and refreshing the same pages over and over again, or mindlessly watching episodes of a show I’ve missed out on by a few years, instead of getting a healthy dose of Vitamin D, instead of remembering why I love being outside.
In one of our many workday conversations, I was talking to my manager/mentor, Kevin, about the double-edged sword of cell phones. He said something that hit me as pretty perfect in describing the technological age — “I think we make ourselves too available.” Too available — that pretty much describes it. We don’t have car phones, we have phones you can take with you to the bathroom, without having to worry about a base that must be no more than 20 feet or 40 feet or whatever it is away. And it’s ridiculous that we can be reached in the bathroom. IS NOWHERE SACRED?!
We even have text messages, for when you just need to know something that doesn’t really require a call. (And yes, I think texts are great for that reason, or if you’re awkward talking on the phone for some reason like I can be, depending on the person.) But at work, if I took a shot for every time someone walked in on his or her cell phone, I’d have alcohol poisoning by the end of a shift. While driving, if I had a nickel for every time I pass or see a driver on his or her cell phone, I would have “a shitload of nickels,” as Trey Parker’s character says in the movie BASEketball. It’s ridiculous. And I’ve found myself in this trap, too, for years. But lately I’ve gotten much better, even if it doesn’t seem it. I really, really have. (However, it’s more often than not my mom — I’m really not popular, so it’s not a social status kind of thing with me.)
Don’t get me wrong; cell phones are wonderful. Especially for worrisome parents (my own mother being a prime example), and for women who, because of pop culture and news stories, sometimes are wary about going out alone in a secluded area (like myself; however, I’m cautious but not paranoid to the extent that my mother is, although I understand, since she’s, you know, my mom). They’re great for teenagers learning to drive so they can call or text their parents when they arrive at their destination to let the parents know they got there safely, etc. They really are good.
But one day, and hopefully before the end of this summer — no, it will be before the end of this summer, and hopefully more than once — I will turn my phone off but have it in my pocket (just in case that rapist is lurking in the bushes as “Law and Order: SVU” says will happen), I’ll stuff my keys in another pocket, and I’ll find a park that has connecting fields, and just walk. Walk until my legs are sore and the sun sinks lower in the sky and I get grass stuck to sweaty me, until my ponytail’s drooping and I’m red from the sun.
Time to be unavailable for the better part of a day.
Anyone care to join me? Don’t worry — we won’t have to hold hands if that’s not your thing.