Saturday, December 19, 2015
Visiting My Past
After Thanksgiving, while coming back from the family gathering, I made a detour off the interstate and down an old highway. I wanted to cruise the town where we lived when I was a young teen. It was a busy place back then but time has passed it by. It’s gone downhill fast. The primary employer closed. People lost their jobs and moved their families away. It will soon be a ghost town. But there was something I felt I had to do there in honor of old times, something that only a person who used to be a boy could possibly understand.
I drove to the old junior high where I spent my pubertal years, the wondrous days when boys are just discovering what it's all about. Those days are big memories for me and I was looking forward to
enjoying my past while cruising that school. Unfortunately, actually seeing it was a real letdown, an absolute bummer. Kids don’t even go to school in that town anymore; they’re bus-ed to a bigger place. My old junior high is empty, condemned, falling to pieces. Plywood nailed over the windows. Trees and juniper bushes so thick around the steps that I could hardly see the chained and padlocked front door. Parking lot sprouting weeds. Birds nesting in the eaves. Graffiti all over the place.
I stopped and got out to walk around. Saplings and brush cover the football field where I once sweated out terribly hot August drills and then would jog to the field house to shower in lighthearted nakedness with dozens of other guys. Now the field house windows are broken and there’s not a kid in sight.
Next I committed a crime. The cellar door under the back entrance to the main building was standing partway open where somebody else had already forced their way in. By stepping through that door I “broke and entered” - I entered my past.
Lighting my way with my phone’s torch, I climbed across junk, past the rusted furnace, through puddles of water, up the stairs to the first floor. Books, chairs, old projectors and tape recorders were strewn up and down the hall. Smashed typewriters. Flatened world globe. Most doors kicked in.Walls tagged with spray paint.
Here's Miss Johnson's music room. The piano is on its back, keys and hammers torn to pieces. Mrs. Davis's social studies room. The big roller-shade type maps ripped into shreds and scattered among a senseless pile of rusty desks and mildewed encyclopedias. Every classroom, same story.
And now, the boys' restroom. Its outer door scrapes the warped floor, won't open all the way, but just enough. I slide through sideways. Then through the second door. How familiar this all was for three years long ago.
Some of the partitions have fallen loose from the wall. Some fixtures are broken. A load of ancient dried-out turds lie petrified in a dry toilet bowl. Mirror shattered. Chunks of ceiling plaster laying on the floor. Everything I see makes me sorry that I came, but there’s something I have to do.
See, despite the desolation, this restroom is the one place I must visit, the one room I must enter, the one destination above all others in this dying town. I have to stand at the urinal in honor of the good days.
I turned off the phone's light and stood in deepest blackness, feeling myself becoming erect and willing my boner to recapture the breathless anticipation of the years when I was in seventh, eighth and ninth grade.
Go ahead and do it, I tell myself. So I begin the time-honored rite of adolescent boys, blotting out the decay and rubbish, aiming my tool at the unseen trough on the trashed wall.
Pumping now. Actually doing it in this long-forsaken restroom.
with you, Sammy (hell, my first encounter with anybody), the beginning of many happy moments together. Moments when this room was squeaky clean and we were besties.
Gordon, this is for you. People called you a sissy because of the way you moved and talked. But you were very special to me, Gordon, a ninth grader sitting in a stall, showing off your erection, beckoning me to come close so you could give me an incredible blow job, the first of several that you kindly bestowed on my hard little stiffie. In this very bathroom.
Douglas, this is for you. You were such a nice, “good citizen” kind of boy, yet you watched me time and time again while I pumped myself for you, Douglas. You squeezed your fly, rubbed your junk, watched every stroke I took, but you were too nice to show me your own arousal. I craved your attention, loved every minute that you watched me masturbate in this room. I felt like I was giving you a thrill that you wouldn’t otherwise have, and that made it a thrill for me too. Right here at this very pee-trough.
I zipped up and made my way back through the cellar and out of the crumbling building, wondering:
Did I do that for Sammy and Gordon and Douglas, or did I do it for myself?
One thing I do know, and I haven’t completely figured it out yet: after leaving the boarded-up building, it took me twenty miles along the old two-lane highway to get the tears out of my eyes.
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