You are remembering with me and you and I are remembering a time when I was seven. You were seven, too and the world was big and there was lots of dirt to play in. We were seven and we ran around the neighborhood scared to death of a woman named Mrs. Cleeber. We were seven and we had bikes and those bikes were the best things in the world to us. We raced up and down Baywater and we left skidmarks on the sidewalks and we stuck playing cards in the spokes of our wheels with clothespins and we pretended we rode motorcycles. We played Evel Knevel.
The world was big and we were our world.
The world was big on my seventh birthday and the world on that day was behind your house. Behind your house was a pond, maybe about the size of two or three blocks. Not big by big standards, but it was filled with bass and crappie and occasional catfish. It was big enough to fish in and it was big enough to hide things forever. Our Matchbox cars got flung into the middle of the pond and we thought we’d never see them again.
And then it was my seventh birthday and you came over to my house and told me the pond had been drained. I remember this because my parents gave me a pair of Kangaroo shoes. They were blue and red and they had kangaroos on the soles. I could run fast in them; I knew this before I put them on. I put them on and they fit perfect and I was ready to run. You said, ‘ready?’ and you meant to the pond, and I was ready to run away from my house and anywhere with you.
We ran. The world was big and on that day the world was the drained pond behind your house. And we ran to it.
The dock ran short into the empty pond. There were rocks and sticks and puddles. We were surprised by the bottom, how it wasn’t as flat as we expected, how, even in the bottom of a pond, there were holes.
We ran. We ran around and around and you were maybe a little faster than me and maybe I chased you. Or maybe sometimes you chased me. We ran and there was always one of us behind the other.
There were little rivers that cut through the bottom of the pond and we jumped over them. I jumped like a kangaroo might over the rivers and I was so cool. I was cooler than you because it was my birthday and I had new shoes.
We were cool and we ran. We muddied ourselves and didn’t care and we ran. We muddied our feet and our legs and we didn’t care. We played detective and we found our rusty Matchbox cars and we buried them again. The ducks had no water to swim in and we laughed at them. We laughed at them because they had nowhere to go and we were in their pond.
We didn’t have to go home until our parents called us. But then my mom yelled for me and I had to go. I had to go because I’d just turned seven and it was time for cake.
And at home I was muddy and at home I was mud up to my elbows. At home I was yelled at and my mom noticed my muddied shoes and she said I’d ruined them and she made me take them off and she threw them away and she yelled at me. She had given me a gift and I didn’t take care of it and she yelled at me for it.
It was my birthday and I was seven and this was my world.