Fletcher suggests writing about a brother, sister, or special relative. Remember: think small. Focus on one aspect of that person, or one experience you had with him or her.
“Go get the stink blown off of you,” Mom would say, pushing us out the door. Jeff and I would jump off the back step and take off for the barn loft. We’d run at lightnening-quick speeds, bound up the ladder, leap into the loft, and scurry over to the secret peep-hole to make sure “The Puddles” weren’t following. Here our adventure begins.
Jeff would start the scenario. The Puddles (imaginary bad-guys who we battled daily that summer) had inevitably done something that would make the world end if we didn’t restore peace to the terror. I would add to Jeff’s story — working it up in our wild imaginations.
“To the map,” Jeff would command. With one last look out the peep-hole, Jeff duck-walked across the loft. (The Puddles had spies everywhere and we weren’t taking the chance of them finding the location of the secret map.) Placing his hands securely on the sides of the painting, taking a deep breath to brace himself for any traps, Jeff methodically picked it up, walked in a semi-circle and placed the picture on the shelf, with the back facing out. He used the secret-code hand signal for me to check again for The Puddles. I stood tippy-toed in front of the peep-hole and scanned the grounds one more time. Then I dropped to my belly and crawled across the dusty planks. I reached the Command Headquarters corner of the loft as Jeff removed the covering of pink butcher-block paper from the back of the painting to reveal our hand-drawn map of the premises.
We began outlining our plan. First we would have to report to the Head Gazook in the old chicken house to get orders for our mission (a la Inspector Gadget). Then into the wood shed for supplies. Followed by a secret rendezvous next to the raspberry bushes.
The adventure would, no doubt, take us through the woods, up into trees and under the bridge. We would need the 4-wheeler. We would need our bikes. We would need our invisibility sheet. We would need peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
The hours would pass as our imaginations played out a grand adventure, which, in the end, would always lead us to bittersweet victory. Sure we overcame evil, but The Puddles once again escaped capture, so they were still out there, plotting to destroy the world . . .
I just had dinner with my brother on Saturday, so he’s been on my mind lately. (He lives almost 2 hours away, so we don’t see each other nearly enough.) It’s been awhile since I’ve thought about The Puddles and our adventures as kids. Looking back, I realize I have Jeff to thank for my imagination and creativity. Together we could spin a tale like no other. I miss him. And I miss our adventures.
Unhurried. Finding the magic in the middle of living. Capturing a life of ridiculous grace + raw stories.