The log house we bought in (yes in, not on) Johnson Lane in rural Northern Nevada, came with pile of scrap lumber left by the original owner/builder that my brother and I used to build forts over the next 8 years. The scrap pile was added to by various projects our parents undertook on the property from barn building to a kitchen addition. It was either add these golden resources to the pile or haul them to the dump. Lucky for my brother and me, we had no trash collection service in B.F.E.
Before our relocation to the land of sagebrush and sand, I had a brief childhood career as a gymnast. When we relocated, my practice balance beam – a padded regulation-length beam meant for outdoor use – came with me. What did not come with me were the practice bars my father had installed in our back yard. No worries, I had plenty of things to entertain me. For a while.
The front third of our acre and a quarter was rimmed with poplar trees. Poplar trees and a split-rail fence. (The horse next door rather liked snacking on our fence, so my parents had coated it in creosote. This was either an accepted deterrent or they were trying to kill that horse. I can't recall which.) Poplar trees are shit for climbing. They’re straight. You can’t really hang out in them. What you can do, however, is set a piece of metal conduit you find in the pile of scrap construction stuff between two of them like a bar. You know, a bar like a gymnast would use.
So, I did.
I made sure the bar was up nice and high in those poplars. I was a tall adolescent. Not bright, but tall. (You’ll see why I wasn’t bright in just moment, in case you haven’t figured it out.) I pulled up onto the bar, prepared for a glorious dismount. As my hips left the bar, my toes pointed in perfect form, I brought me feet apart and up to the bar to swing down for the spectacular dismount. And here’s when shit went south.
This is why my brother became the architect who does design-build and I remain the person with great ideas. Attention to detail. Truth be told, he built most of the forts. I showed up. Brought decorations.
As I swung down for my dismount THE BAR SPUN RIGHT AROUND WITH ME and out of my hands. And I fell what felt like 20 feet down onto my back on that split-rail fence, leaving a line of creosote imprinted in my jeans from where I hit.
I’m not sure if it was my pride or my back that hurt more as I called out for my mother and crawled up onto the front porch.