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When Did We Grow Up?

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Another storm is powering its way across the panhandle tonight, Monday. I can hear the rain driving into the pavement, hail clinking off of windows, and thunder rolling outside. Lightning is dancing across the sky, making porchlights useless. So far no sirens have sounded. So far.

This current bombardment of storms is making me think of my youth. Why, I am not sure. But for some reason it is taking me on a mental journey.

My brother, Benjamin, and I were outside walking with a friend. We had come across a dirt road that had fallen into disuse and we decided to walk down it. The trees had grown over the abandoned road, creating a ceiling of leaves, protecting us from anything that might be beyond. In this case, our imagination.

All of us were fans of a series of fantasy novels written by Terry Brooks. So with our longswords at our sides, and the threat of dragons or other mythical creatures looming, we made our way down the path.

We band of heroes moved with what we thought was grace and style. Searching the woods for whatever might be lurking in the shadows, watching the sky, keeping each other safe. Our swords were extended, ready to strike down whatever evil might attack.

The further we journeyed, the longer the shadows grew, and our imaginations did the same.

Our adventure came to a sudden end when a very loud clap of thunder echoed above us. We dropped our sticks and ran for home, narrowly beating the rain that followed. It rained for days.

Now, thunderstorms in Alaska are not too uncommon. Granted it isn’t the same caliber storm as what is coming down now, but they tended to be long and drawn out.

When Mother Nature would embark on a marathon of rain, my brothers, all three of them, myself, and my sister, the youngest of the five of us, would be locked in our home. Trapped. Stuck, to deal with one another in a two-story, four-bedroom log home that was to our prison for a few days.

At first we would get along just fine. Ben and I would hang out in our room, reading, watching television and just generally being brothers. The others, well, to be honest I don’t know what they were doing. The only time I cared is when Ben or I would go downstairs to mess with them. We were good older brothers, which translates to: we tortured them endlessly.

What fun we had. Scaring them, tormenting them, generally being rotten. The longer the storm went the worse we got. I bet they hated us. Or at least hated it when it rained.

But that was then. Now the five of us are spread out across the U.S. Living our lives with little to no influence from each other. Sure we all speak. But our lives have taken completely different routes.

When did we grow up? When did we put away the imagination and step into adulthood? Better yet, why did we? We didn’t follow the mantra of Toys-R-Us and declare, “I don’t want to grow up,” forever locked in a mental Never Neverland. Yes Peter, I want to be a Lost Boy!

But we didn’t. No, we let Puff the Magic Dragon slip into his cave. We sold our toys, traded off the fantasy books for textbooks, and moved on.

Sometimes I see a glimpse of my childhood in my boys, Vincent and Aydin. Sometimes, I get to reach into the top of the closet, shake of my imagination and play once again. But for how long? How long before they grow up and think, “when did I grow up?”

I miss the carefree days of growing up. The days when the front porch was a castle and the dogs were creatures that we must do battle with. I miss tormenting the younger siblings.

But when I think of all the things I left behind in my childhood, I miss my imagination the most.

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