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BACK IN THE DAY: REACHING NEW HEIGHTS

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Hearing kids say, “I’m bored!” resides in the penthouse suite of phrases I despise. How on earth can you be “bored” in this day and age of smartphones, video games and the buffet table of gadgets technology has afforded this generation. Not to go “old man yells at cloud” here, but that was a phrase we rarely — if ever — used. As a kid, my love of climbing things was a driving force. Nothing mattered except getting home from school, doing homework and spending whatever time was left in the day climbing trees, jumping fences and the occasional exploration of our neighbor’s roofs. Putting a ball, frisbee or my sister’s Barbie dolls on a roof was a prelude to the fun that came from figuring out how to work our way up. Yet there was one abandoned two-story house that left my heart skipping a beat. Long before truly falling in love with sports, play-by-play with sports board games and my first crush, that ramshackled house was to me what the little redheaded girl was to Charlie Brown. If the world ended moments after I climbed the roof of it, 6-year-old Chris (being called Brandon was nearly a decade and a move to La Marque away) Williams would gone with an undeniable smile upon his face. My mom knew what that house meant to me. She also in no uncertain terms told me about the consequences that awaited should I ever choose to defy her orders. Scared? Yes? Deterred? Oh, no. Fear and bucking the system collided in the form of my cousin Brian, whose life consisted of finding ways of getting in trouble and attempting to do the local version of what his idol, Evel Knievel, would break himself in half doing for money, fame and terrifying his insurance company. Brian also knew the importance of that house in my life and got the plan rolling by simply saying, “if only we had a ladder.” Done. To this day, I have no idea where he found the ladder (and probably don’t want to know), and off we went the 4-5 blocks toward our Mount Everest. Back then, seeing a pair of kids walking up the street with a ladder didn’t cause any concern. As we finally arrived, we took a brief moment to catch our breath before finally finding a good spot as the foundation. The ladder was just big enough to allow us easy access to the wide-open window on the second floor. Our plan nearly reached a premature ending when I nearly lost my balance coming off the ladder, but fate (and sheer foolishness) intervened and gave us a chance to look around. Still, something felt empty. Sure, we were on the second floor, but we weren’t at the very top. Again, fate played in our favor as we suddenly saw access to the attic. We climbed and explored through the worn-out fiberglass and the occasional rodent, not paying attention to the rickety floors. Thanks to a hole in the roof big enough for us to fit into, Brian and I reached the top. On this clear, sunny day, my first goal in life was accomplished. I could see the neighborhood, other kids biking and some walking to the corner store. Life was good…. ….for about 10-15 seconds. That’s how long it took for me to find the soft spot on the the roof, one that sent me through the attic… ….through the second floor…. ….and back to the first. “Wow!” was all either Brian and I could say. That is, until he saw my right shoulder looking unusually off kilter. “I think you’re hurt,” he said. Brian was right. I was hurt, but the pain of my shoulder paled in comparison to the pain I knew my mom would dole out. I tried to play it off the pain for an hour before giving in. Yes, I got my just due from my mom, but for the low, low price of a mild shoulder separation and a few bruises, it was worth it. Even now, I wouldn’t trade that sudden flight from the roof for anything. Keep your iPhones and your PlayStations. I’d rather solve boredom the old fashioned way…. Tune in next time when Brian and I decided if it was possible to ride a bicycle off my grandparents’ roof.

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