It is early-ish--about four--on a Saturday morning in winter, and I'm thinking about past such Saturdays when I was a boy.
One might note that I rarely use "young" or "old" as descriptors. I don't believe in them. Not like that.
As the story that will be in The Solution to the World's Problems: Surprising Tales of Relentless Joy says, "There is no young and there is no old. There is only what you are now, what you are doing, how well you are trying to do it."
I'm thinking about this in part because of my nephew. As I said, for his birthday in November I gave him a copy of a Three Investigators book, and sent along a letter about what the series had meant and still means to me--I was reading one of these books this past week--and why I thought he might like it.
Turns out he hasn't read it. Didn't even start it. Likely won't ever try it. The boy doesn't like to read on his own. He would rather watch Mr. Beast videos on YouTube.
I grow every day, but at the same time, certain things have remained in place. Quite a lot, actually. I have always turned to my imagination, for instance. My imagination is a part of every single second of my life. But interests and passions, too.
On a Saturday like this in winter when I was small, I'd be getting up around now, and getting in the car with my dad, heading out in the pre-dawn darkness to a rink some thirty-five minutes away for one of my hockey games.
I didn't talk much on the way there. I was pretty serious about wanting to play well. Came in focused. On the way home I'd talk much more, allowing that I hadn't played poorly. Talk about the game, school, sports, friends, life.
It'd be early, still, when we got home. I'd watch a black and white horror movie on TV if one was on. That was a Saturday morning thing in New England. You had Creature Double Feature. I hoped it would be one of the Universal horror films, and not some Godzilla affair. I didn't get into those nearly the same way.
I'd read the paper, going through all of the hockey box scores from the NHL games the night before. If teams like the Oilers or Flames were playing at home, their scores wouldn't be in there until the next day, because they got over too late. I'd see if my favorite players had any goals or points. Checked the Islanders games first for Mike Bossy.
Then I'd go out in the woods, just me. There was a brook out there, and I'd walk to that. Didn't matter how cold it was or if there was snow. I'd stand very still and just listen. Hear a bird and try to find it on its branch up in some tree. I especially liked when I saw and heard a cardinal. I loved blue jays, but cardinals were a somewhat less regular sighting. Plus, they didn't make sure you knew about them, like a lot of blue jays did. And chickadees. I admired them. They were so self-contained, imperturbable. It was almost as if they were showing you how certain things were best done. Even who you wanted to be, the attitude you ought to have.
I looked for spent shotgun shells underfoot. Sometimes I'd find something--like a bottle--that I figured had to be 100 years old. I'd sit on a stone wall that used to mark the boundary of a property or farm and just think. You wouldn't necessarily sit there during the other seasons, because there could very well be snakes. But they were hibernating now.
I'd come home, and it'd be a normal hour by then, and I'd hang out with a friend. Might play a video game. Afterwards, we'd get a bunch of us together and play football in someone's backyard, and knock each other around. There was no two-hand touch. And that was good.
Later I'd read. It could be whatever. A book about baseball history. A Three Investigators story. Dickens. If the Bruins were playing at night, I'd watch at least some of that. Throughout this time at home there'd be various interactions with my parents and sisters. But I was in motion, doing stuff, even when sitting still.
I'd think about a story I wanted to write starting Monday at school. Let's see, what would make a good story? A kid wakes up and there's no one else in his house. He goes outside, and he doesn't see anyone in his neighborhood. What does he do? Does he go across the street and knock on the door? The cars are still in the garage. He checks the other beds. They're all made, but he doesn't have the feeling they were made that morning. Then what?
I learned. I learned so much every day. About all kinds of things. I didn't stop doing so then, just as I don't stop now.