on hammocks
April 22, 2014, 4:59 am
Filed under: Stuff | Tags: , , , , ,

Hammocks might be the best things ever invented.

As a child, we’d go to our friend Jonathan’s house, and a game we’d play was to see how many of us could fit in the backyard hammock . Then the older kids would swing us until we inevitably fell out and scraped our knees and smashed heads. But it was awesome. And we’d climb back in and do it all over again. A form of self-torture that was too much fun to pass up.

The next time I used a hammock was the first time I got high. Much like when I was a child, my friends and I piled inward and were swung back and forth, cackling like idiots. It was much like being a child, only more obnoxious. My friend and I laid there for what seemed like hours staring at stars and feeling like grownups, even though we were proving to be anything but. I remembered the joy of the hammock as a child, and although this could have been the drugs talking, this felt even more meaningful.

A few years back, I set one up between two monstrous trees in our back yard. I tried to replicate the joy of my youth, minus the drugs and friends. It was okay. Nothing too special. I never felt I had the time to actually relax long enough to enjoy it. Toddlers will do that to a man. I took it camping and slept in it a few nights, in hopes that if would take me back to more carefree days. I tried afternoon naps on sunny, summer days. It was nice, but nothing could take me back to a past that was no longer attainable.

Nostalgia is funny. You can build up memories into these giant panoramas, making them out to be much more than they were. It’s like you paint a mural in your mind, only to realize it was nothing more than a finger painting.

My kids ended up using the hammock more than I did, often asking me to swing them as they giggled and got scared, the way I did as a child, minus the swearwords. Then my dog chewed holes in it, and I threw it away, much too cheap and unwilling to pay for a new one.

The truth is that memories only hold the power that we give them. While objects and people can take us back to certain places in time, nothing can replicate what brought us joy in the past. It wasn’t the hammock that made me happy. It was being with friends, laughing until I couldn’t breathe, experiencing life and growing up. A product can’t do that. If we spend our time trying to manufacture nostalgia, it will truly be a wasted life. If we expect items to bring us real joy, then we have no chance at experiencing the memories now that create nostalgia in the present, and will again in the future. We’ll be left unsatisfied.

Hammocks went on sale today, half price. I couldn’t resist, so I purchased another one. Can’t beat $25 for a chance to relive your dreams. I no longer expect to be taken back in time, though. That’s silly to expect out of a hammock. Besides, you need drugs to do that.

Maybe hammocks aren’t the greatest thing ever. But if your favourite thing to do is lie down, it might come close.

swing low sweet chariot
April 24, 2009, 7:17 pm
Filed under: Stuff | Tags: , ,

i had this weird sense of deja vu the other day.

i went to my old school to meet a teacher who wanted to test drive my vehicle i’m trying to sell. he went for a drive and i was left waiting. i didn’t really feel like going inside and making conversation. i wasn’t being a snob or anything, i just knew i wouldn’t have time for anything worthwhile. so i sat on the swing out front. and that’s when the memories came flooding back. 

wcc, or wcchs as it is now known, has been a part of my family since the day i was born. literally. when i was born, my parents lived on campus in their apartments. as far back as i can remember, this school has been a part of my life. it has moved to three different places from it’s original location, and the second place it was at is where i remember first experiencing the swing. there was nothing special about it. there were two of them. white, wooden swings. and i don’t mean swing sets. i mean two people swings, where you could sit side by side and watch passersby. they sat along the edge of the fence line between mammoth trees. and as a kid, i remember thinking i have to go play on those, and so i did. they intrigued me for some reason. maybe it was the carvings in them. mostly it was random names, and more often than not it was br + jo (blair roberts loves jeremy olson) or something like that. but i spent much time playing on those swings the first time i visited the school in dauphin. soon after, our family moved there for a second stint working at the school. i was still pretty young, and i remember pulling into the parking lot and seeing the same swings that i had so much fun on the year before. being a little kid, i didn’t know the rules of the swings, so i upset the powers that be. i was out there every chance i got. climbing on them. pushing them, reading for new carvings. and, i guess…swinging on them. later on, i learned the rules. if there was no one on them, they were fair game. but if there was a boy and girl sitting on them, it meant there was a private emotional conversation going on. either they were asking the other out or breaking up. and so i finally understood why so many couples would walk out only to turn around with irritated looks on their faces when they saw some weird little kid run past them at the last second to sit on the swing. i just thought we were racing…

  • i remember making my first carving on the swing. it was just my initials, but it was thrilling. i wanted it to stand out, so everyone would know KBR had been there. and i was terrified someone would see me doing it. i had stolen a steak knife from my kitchen to do it, and mom would be super ticked if she found out. 
  • i remember my friend sitting out there with some random girl who i don’t remember. everyone thought they were making out, but they were really just holding a coat up over them so they could smoke pot without having to leave campus. i’m pretty sure they got a big talking to about pda’s, and i’m not talking about the handheld devices. public displays of affection. they were strictly prohibited. to this day, i still look both ways before kissing my wife to make sure there were no dorm directors watching. 
  • i remember my buddy telling the girl who liked him that he didn’t like her. the crushing conversation on the swings. the slow walk to the girls dorm for her. the brisk walk back to not caring for him. 
  • i remember my friend asking if he could borrow some tylenol from our apartment. i gave him the bottle and didn’t know he had taken 20 pills. he ate them, and then sat on the swing waiting to die. he never did, because the girl who dumped him went to see if he was okay only to hear his confession, and be rushed to the hospital after a call to 911.
  • i remember the swings being the judge as to whether a windstorm was huge or not. if the swings were still up, it wasn’t that bad. if the swings were tipped over, it was crazy-ness! 

the swings were a place of laughs, a place of drama, a place of heartache, and a place of childish play. i remember walking out there when i was in high school, only to have some little runt run past and beat me there. it was sooo irritating, yet for some reason, it felt very familiar…

and now i sat on one of these two swings in a completely different city and thought of everything that had happened on them. and then i thought, i probably shouldn’t sit on this, because at some point i’m sure someone had peed on them.  i looked for the carvings, but they were painted over. no giant KBR carving left to mark my place on the traveling swing set. i felt so lost and alone.

just kidding. i didn’t really care. then the teacher came back with my car and i left, still not caring. but it was fun to remember the swing. and it was nice to go home and change my pants, because i guarantee someone had at the very least spit on it and not cleaned it up.