Coming of Age part 1

A Sketch taken from an old high scool sketchbook.

A Sketch taken from an old high scool sketchbook.


I love the movie Stand By Me.

For a kid stuck in an apartment in the concrete jungle of Sacramento, California, it was like OZ.  Stand By Me used to come on HBO all the time- and even though my mom’s income didn’t pay for a lot of luxury, HBO was one of those things we could somehow justify.  If while flipping through channels, I happened to run across this flick, I had to watch the whole thing.  It means a little more to me now because of what I lived when I was in high school; I used to live just across the creek from some railroad tracks. And just like in the movie, I had a crew.


Mike “The Giant” lived in our neighborhood the longest.  His mom was the secretary at the largest elementary school in the district.  Doris- great lady.  Loved to cook.  Mike and I would camp out in his backyard and steal cheap beer from his dad’s fridge.


Aaron grew the first facial hair.  He beat us to a lot of things.  I think the first time he got caught stealing cigarettes was in the seventh grade.  He pretty much kept that course while we still were close- he was a good friend.  I know this because we hung out often even though he didn’t go to my school- he went to the alternative school with the other troublemakers.  He played tough, but he wasn’t that bad.


John hung around us because he didn’t have anywhere else to go.  He had a real bad home life.  Dad was never around and Mom never really took care of things.  I went over to his house a couple of times and was pretty uncomfortable- everyone seemed pretty accustomed to the piles of dog feces spread throughout the house.  I’m ashamed to say we picked on John quite a bit.  He was the youngest, and in adolescent groups- if that’s you, you take heat.


Ian was crazy, and if he’s still alive, he’s probably in jail.


We had a lot of memories together.  The most memorable took place along the tracks. 


I remember walking back from Ice Lake one time with Aaron when he asked me if I thought Mike was gay.  I told I didn’t know, but even if he was, he was still pretty cool.  Aaron agreed.


I remember dragging full backpacks to a familiar inlet in one of the rock formations along the tracks.  The contents of our bags? A year’s worth of homework saved for this occasion; the first day of summer was celebrated with small bonfire of collected education.  We stuck it to the man with a little help from some gasoline we found in Aaron’s garage.  Funny memory- and stupid.  I’m surprised we didn’t get hurt.  There was this other time we actually did start a brush fire, but thank God, we managed to put it out with only a couple of superficial burns.


Another time, I remember being mad at Aaron and Ian because they had spray-painted obscenities all over a rock face along one section of the tracks.  A couple of weeks later we found that someone had carved away sections of the words to create different messages- a little more G-rated.  Aaron and Ian were pissed, and even though I didn’t show it, I was secretly happy.

Those were some good times.


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March 2009
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