--"Please Remember", LeAnn Rimes
The two of you were standing out on her balcony. She started throwing over the stuffed animals first. The first to go was your older than the hills stuffed koala bear, Mr. Shrimps. Both of you had swaddled him tightly in a navy blue blankie that had somehow survived Shelly's toddler days. After peering over, you watched her toss Mr. Shrimps in the air casually as if she were lofting a baseball to another child to hit with a baseball bat. The only difference was she was lofting this particular baseball over the railing of her parents' balcony and this particular baseball soon was plummeting a full story down to the trampoline below.
Success. You both laughed that your test run had been met with a rousing show of support. Even though they had been against the idea in the first place, your aunt and uncle, once they had seen how close the trampoline was to the balcony begrudgingly has to admit that it did look like fun. Mr. Shrimps, bouncing his way halfway up to the balcony again, certainly looked to be having a hoot-and-a-half. Even while your aunt and uncle stood behind the doorway filming you both for posterity, they were the perfect witnesses to what could only be described as your latest stunt. And it wasn't even your idea. They could blame their own daughter for that one.
You looked over to your co-conspirator. Both of you had the same chestnut brown hair and both of you had the same Holins' features to your faces. In those days it was as obvious as the sun that the two of you were related to one another. You were proud to notice the resemblance too. You especially loved it when the folks would mistake you for sister because, more than anything, you had wished she could've been your older sister. You both had on your morning robes, hers in navy blue and yours in your characteristic orange, over your nightclothes. You thought it best to wear something comfortable. You didn't much see the point in changing or getting ready just to hurl yourself over the edge of your uncle's house. That would make as much sense as buying a new dress to jump off a bridge. For all you knew you were just going to rebound off the trampoline's surface and onto the grass beside it. It would have been a real shame to waste a perfectly functional outfit when your whole motive was to muck around on the trampoline any way.
You watched as your favorite cousin then tossed her robe over the railing, watched it as it bounced (not as high as your koala, but still) up, and then finally come to rest on the trampoline's surface again. It was like watching a blue ghost hovering for a few seconds in the air.
You loved watching every second of it.
Then you watched Shelly climb over the railing. She glances over her shoulder behind her to line up her intended target, the area upon which she intended to fall, before scooting an inch this way or that way. Then she just looked at you, smiling. She was telling you, this is it, my dear. This is where all of your planning the night before becomes real. You watched her hands as they let go of the iron railing. You watched her body fly away from you like she was an actress in a movie, plummeting to her demise. You heard her scream your name in an almost ecstasy that one can only achieve at that age. A million things could have gone wrong. She could have banged her head against the metal frame of the trampoline. Worse yet, she could have fallen awkwardly and snapped her neck. Or the trampoline could have broken. A million things could have just happened to make the experience end vastly differently.
But they didn't. You watched as her body recoiled on the contraption below. After that she was just a brunette tressed Irish jumping bean, a particle caught up in the winds of her folly. And you couldn't wait to join her.
Soon it was your turn to join her. She was calling your name from far below. "Breasy, come and get me," she said, daring you to follow her in her madness. She was willing you not to be scared. Your aunt and uncle started to repeat to you that you din't have to jump if you didn't want to. "Simply because Shelly's a daredevil, don't mean you have to be one too, child," your aunt warned you again. But you had to show Shelly. She had to know that she could count on you not to be scared. You had to show your cousin that there wasn't any place on Heaven or Earth that you wouldn't follow her to. She had to know that you were willing to do anything to be in her company. You had to jump. You had no choice, you know?
"Clear off the robe," you yelled down to her as you begin to climb over the railing. "And clear away Mr. Shrimp," you added.
"Like that?" she asked as she pushed them both to one pile on the side of the trampoline.
You stood on the other side of the railing by then, hands grasping the rail behind you. "Please, thank you," you called down. You still had on your orange robe. You thought it might look spectacular flaring about as you fell. It would be your cape or, in the worst case scenario, it would be your parachute--you weren't really sure which. "I'm going to do this facing you," you shouted down. You thought that would be the braver manner in which to fall. Shelly had set the bar. You were intending to go over it. You would watch yourself as you fell back down to Earth instead of looking up at the sky like Shelly did. You wanted to feel that rush of emotion. You wanted to see how crazy as a polar bear in the desert you really were.the time was yours and mine
and we were wild and free
You jumped down and the whole world jumped down with you. You didn't so much feel you were rushing to meet the trampoline as being pushed into the ground, into the Earth, with a velocity you hadn't experienced as of yet. It was a rush of motion that seemed to go on for hours even if only took all of milliseconds to reach the ground. You landed in a sitting position, with your lily-white ass striking the trampoline before the rest of you. Then, just as violently as you had fallen down through the air, you were rising once again through it. It was like you were as weightless as snow once again. It was like you were flying under your own power. It was this close to being heavenly, you thought. Even when you inevitably fell again, you were laughing at the sheer joy of it. You were smiling at the thought that this is what it's like to be a young girl and carefree. Some part of you knew, just knew, that times like these weren't long for the world and that it wasn't going to be every day of your life that you would be able to just jump from a balcony without repercussions. Some part of you knew you had to savor that day because it was going to be one of the last few days of childhood you would have left.
What you didn't know at the time, what you couldn't have known, was that this was going to be one of the last few times you would be spending with your beloved cousin like this--so amenable and so talkative. You couldn't know a few years later that you'd be looking at times like these spent with Shelly as being the highlight of your relationship with one another. All you knew at the time was how much you looked up to her and how glad you were that she had talked you into jumping off a balcony for no other reason than it was there... and the unmistakable fact that the two of you were bored. You had done something incredible. She had been the direct cause of that. That's all you knew at the time as the two of you rolled around for awhile atop the trampoline. And that's all you cared to know.
You now realize that sometimes that's all you get with people. Sometimes all you get is that one roll in the hay, that one swim to the lakeshore, and you've got to make do with the time you've got. Sometimes, as much as you wish you could leap again and again, all you get is that one chance to make a connection with somebody you care about before it's over. You just have to take the leap, eyes wide open to the fact that you might only get that one chance to do it right. You might only get that one day when everything's perfect--the sun is shining, your aunt and uncle are in the right mood, and you're just young enough not to know how dangerous what you're planning is--and you know you have to take your shot at immortality. You don't get second chances to do things over all the time, so often times you just have to make do with the time you have and know deep down that, like the saying goes, it was fun while it lasted.
As your daddy says, you can't keep the fireplace burning forever. And you say, you can't keep hoping it's going to come roaring back to life either.
Labels: childhood, Goodbyes, LeAnn Rimes, Memories, Shelly, trampoline