Saturday, September 5, 2009

Smells like 8-year old spirit

Yesterday, as I drove into Four Oaks I made a split-second decision to turn down the road that goes by the back side of my old elementary school. I must have driven by this road at least 4,000 times since the last time I actually went down it. For some reason, a random image from childhood flashed back into my mind, going to see a log cabin that some old man had lived in and had kept up as a town "historic landmark." If my memory serves me, we just sort of toddled into the one-room cabin and, upon finding nothing of interest there, toddled back out. I'm sure the old man felt he was doing some great educational service to us - the best I can do for him is remember it being there. It happened to be situated just across the street from our middle school soccer/football field (the middle school that I went to used to be on the same property as the elementary school). I would sometimes pause from running in the physical fitness test, or look up from a game of kickball and see it perched on its old stone foundation, watching us like a curious elderly gentleman sitting beneath a shade tree. Though it never served as a setting for a landmark event in my life, I still kind of liked it. Now it is just a memory of a memory, and I think that's why it was so surreal to see it yesterday for the first time in years.

Also, on that playground are lots of places that do serve as settings for landmark events in my life. There is the place where the old jungle gym was - where Bradley and I would play out imaginary games of Batman and Robin. There is the row of trees upon who's root I tripped and broke my other wrist (the first one I broke in pre-school playing duck-duck goose. I still have an aversion to that game). Then there was the tragic snack-time patio experience where I watched Mason, the bully, knock a lady bug out of Dale's hand and stomp on it. Dale cried - I cried. It was horrible.

One memory, however, troubles me the most. From the middle of the play ground I can vividly remember turning my head to the left and seeing what I swore to be the Bat Mobile driving down the main road past our school.  This would have been when I was in first grade or kindergarten, but I knew - I knew I saw the Bat Mobile - yes, the REAL Bat Mobile. I took great pleasure in bragging/telling all of the other kids in a tone which I usually reserved for speaking of ghosts or dead people or other serious things, about how certain I was that I had seen the Bat Mobile that day. As I stood across the street and watched the outlines of children at play project from my mind onto the empty playground, I grew more and more frustrated at my inability to conjure that specific scene. A few minutes passed and eventually I put the car back into drive and pulled away from the playground and my nostalgia; but I couldn't drive away from that curiosity, and the nagging question still remains:

Did I really see the Bat Mobile?

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