We used to hide in your backyard dressed in camouflage all day. BB guns pumped up twenty times. That’s nearly .22 caliber we’d say. What might we kill today. Ready to shoot anything that moved. Birds, squirrels, a rabbit. Little boys without a clue. Just mirroring what we thought we knew, what men are. Playing army, too young to raise our hands and make an oath. No reason to pause and think what our paths might bring that day.
We were twelve as we raced back and forth then, from bush to bush. From house to house. Getting outside when, our parents told us that we played too much Nintendo. The summer of Legend of Zelda, the hours spent killing in 8-bit with swords. Going outside and looking for, more because our culture was already depleting us from inside. So many toys for a generation that would become defined as ME not WE. So much for a little one. Before cell phones. Before “i” anything. Nearing the death of drive-in theaters.
How our parents would cram us all in the car, how we would put down the back seat in the station wagon and turn it into a bed. How we would gather at the snack shop. Seeing everyone from town, as we looked at the memorized menu options. Hotdogs or burgers. Add cheese. Add fries. Add chili. Large coke. When cancer was still a joke, because everything caused it. Next thing they’ll say, water causes cancer. Next thing they’ll say, breathing causes cancer. I sure love my burgers. If it comes between my food and a heart attack, I’d rather die. And many did. My dad died. And I now have cancer. We didn’t think of that when, we joked back then that the jokes might be… on us.
Back to your backyard. That day it all went right. A hunter was born and a hunter died. I shot a red bird. We quickly approached it and it was still alive, heart beating, wings trying. The flap of death. You looked at me and told me to put it out of its misery. I pumped the rifle one time and shot it in the heart. As it lay dead, I began to weep. You made fun of me for the tears that tore deep. And now as I look back, and see what we became, I wonder what other moments define us, like memories from an Instagram filter movie, like ET or Jaws. Two kids with different paths from the same town, to become extremely different men. The one in tears becomes an artist and a vegetarian. The one without becomes a big game hunter in Alaska. Seems like a dream. Were we defined in that instant, in your backyard. How different our paths’ of life, liberty and the pursuit of manhood. Too different to be friends. Only time would define it when, we looked back. I feel lucky to have cried that day.
I feel lucky to habe been bullied so I might say, I wish you all the best in Alaska.