As someones child, I would like to assume they are curious to know of all the "bad" things I have done. I would like to assume that they are innately curious of all the high jinx I could get into. They maybe pretended to "trust" me, but deep down, I think they are dying to know the secret lives of their child. Sensing this, I have often opted to spare my mother the gut wrenching anxiety she must have felt for all those nights I was out beyond curfew as truth be told, I was at a diner eating fries with mayonnaise with a bunch of up to no good punks.
So recently, I confessed a few things I've done. I didn't think too much about it, but when she recently commented, "So where was the secret fort??" I wondered why she didn't want to know more about these other things I could cross off my list as done...
33. travel with musicians
68. swim naked in the ocean at night
90. make a complete and utter fool of myself
92. forgive my parents
100. get arrested
But no- it's the secret fort I built with a bunch of no good punks. So here it is...
There was one house with green siding, a gently sloping lawn, by best friend next door and nothing but a ravine, a farmer's field and the rest of Alberta across the street and behind the neighbours house (see map and see that across the highway is seriously developed housing now). It probably wasn't so secret, but at the time, it sure felt like if you crossed the street went behind the house and a little bit further you drop off the edge of adult land.
One summer a bunch of older kids made off with the farmer's hay bales (from across Baseline Road) and built tunnels and little rooms. We were small bundles of legs and arms. We didn't need a whole lot of room. I maybe more accurately, didn't "make" a secret fort, as much as I was aware of a secret fort and played in it. I climbed trees in this wild growth of magical childhood fantasy and played pirates. We pretended we would find hidden treasure, and we would watch for invading tribes from afar. You know the drill.
Once, it rained heavily and flooded the ravine. A couple of kids made a raft- or at least that is what I seem to remember. I distinctly remember crawling along a fallen tree log that was arched over the water. It's a sheer madness that no one got hit running across the highway that separated this wilderness from the farmer's field, that we never got caught stealing hay and that no one got seriously hurt or drowned in that murky water that one summer.
The whole thing is a bit of a weird memory- half submerged in memory and the other half gurgling for air in fantasy. Did I really crawl on my hands and knees through the yellow, musty, poky straw bale tunnel or did I imagine it.
Either way- it was a secret and it was a fort.
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