Madman across the water

September 25, 2007 at 1:34 am (Waxing Nostalgic)

One by one, all the things I loved during my youth are dying off.

It’s a fact of life. Things come and go, seasons change. The best-laid plans go awry. I’d been in a funky mood all day, and couldn’t figure out why. It’s been almost exactly six months since the big break-up, and though I could blame that, it didn’t seem like the cause. It was a sense of loss, yet I couldn’t figure out what.

Then I read today’s paper.

I grew up near Sandy, Oregon. I consider myself a mountain kid, even though we lived on an acre-plus just outside of town. My dad was a millworker, and a lot of my male relatives were either loggers or truck drivers. While more of a greenhorn than they, I still had an appreciation for the wilderness, nature, etc… And where did I go when I wanted to get away?

Roslyn Lake.

From my earliest years, I remember tubing, wading, getting into water fights. Summer picnics, my mother’s religious group “fun” outings. (Fun because all the girls who were normally dressed in sackcloth would be in Daisy Dukes or less!)

The fun lost its innocence as I got older. I knew a girl who lived across from the entrance, and her dad would let me park my dad’s pickup truck in his driveway so I could go ‘catfishing’. No matter that I would emerge at 11 PM on a school night. I would hike the quarter-mile back, smoke a doobie or two and go skinny-dipping.

I was only interrupted once, by another pack of partiers. They stayed away, and so did I. The lake was big enough for both of us.

Walking out was a thrilling experience. This was wilderness, and while you didn’t see deer or bear in the daylight, after dark this became their ‘hood. The crackling of the underbrush made ones’ hair stand on end, and made you want to put a spring in your step. But you couldn’t walk too fast, because there were pot holes in the road. Did I mention there were no street lights? It was freaking dark!

This was in the days before Jason and Camp Crystal Lake. Holy crap! I probably never would have tried sneaking in, had all those serial-killer chop-and-slop movies came along a bit earlier.

As the years rolled on, I would still go to visit. During my last year living in Sandy, we spent a lot of time at the lake, drinking jugs of generic burgundy and trout fishing. Though we rarely caught much (other than a buzz) the worst day fishing was better than the best day working.

I haven’t been out there in years. We drove past during a heat wave, but kids were cranky so we didn’t stop. Had I known they were pulling the plug, I would have revisited with a vengeance.

Now all I’ll have are memories. Spending my 22nd birthday fishing with Freewheelin’, who was surprised that I didn’t drink. (My dad’s funeral had been the day before.) My second date with Mizelle. We jumped, fully clothed, into the greenish water and spent most of the day there. A romantic tryst with my ex-wife, behind an old log. We’d walked/stumbled what seemed like miles to find a secluded place, only to discover we were about ten feet from our original starting point.

Of course, I didn’t point that out until after.

So even though it’s just a place, the sense of loss is similar to that of a loved one. It’s a place I always thought would be there, to embrace me on warm summer nights. The stars twinkling above, the moon grinning at my foolish escapades. The sound of water lapping against the rickety dock.

So long, old friend.

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