Friday, July 01, 2005

Last dance in the Fort

Well a couple of weekends I caught up with Rani, an old girl friend of mine. We ended up enjoying each other's company so much after a couple years of no contact whatsoever that we drove up to Fayetteville after midnight to meet up with her sis and chill on dickson Street. 'Stina, her sis, had to be taught a lesson in who was still cool. two years out of Fayetteville fame I made them a bet that I'd be known by more folks than they would if we went bar to bar. The contest was one. 7-1 Ray daddy ^^ Hehe, but Rani and Stina will have the last laugh, especially when she's an MD here in a couple of years getting paid the big bucks while I'm either still in school awaiting inferior payment or in a parish dealing with people's spiritual issues. But that's besides the point. For now what's really important is that I'm still cooler in my own College town.

The Fort has been a rather nostalgic and sad place recently. Every place I see reminds me of something or other. Many things have closed or changed. One thing that had not was Dr. Berumen's house, where we all swam in the jungle surrounded pool with the waterfall, hot tubbed until we pruned (refusing to get out into the cold), played soccer in the oversized backyard, and basketball on the court - yes it has all of those things. Unfortunately the Berumen's are devoid of kids these days and have sold their place. Luckily mike came back into town, so Benny and Scott drove down for one last hoorah at the Berumen's pad. I brought over my little sisters and their sweet friend Abby. We all played soccer - Fort Smith Express alumni vs Expresses' up and coming stars. So fun. then we have them ride our shoulders and push each other off (we used to call them chicken fights, but I'm not sure if that's a universal term). Then we bombarded Scotty from the woods as he tried to sail on the raft from place to place. Next there was the jump into the pool and try to volley the beach ball at people's face (they have to keep their arms open and take it in the chops if you can manage to hit the beach ball that well while flying into the water), and lastly Mike and I did a series of 1-2-3 throw ins. Throwing Abby was just hilarious. She's in 8th grade and is a cheerleader because she's so freaking tiny that anyone can toss her. We sent all three of them flying into the pool time and again. Ahhh... what entertains 12 year old girls.

I was happy that the sisters got to come over for a night at the Berumen's. I felt that my friends and I had gotten to share a piece of who we were with them before it passed forever into history and memory. With the age difference between us they've always grown up with myself and my friends times as a tight knit group of chums being almost a thing of legend - something that we used to be. I think now they feel a little more bonded with the 17 year old called Finkle and his possee, if only for one passing night. At least they'll know that I also lived there, and that funny and fun loving people have passed their mostly youthful years in the Fort before them.

There was some sadness to it though. Throughout the night I couldn't help but think "this is it... this is really it." Our common pad was the last thing that kept my heart bound to a part of Fort Smith. Sure we were never there, but it was there. Just sitting there, still populated by Berumen's, waiting for us all to return for more carefree night swimming. Sounds dumb and trite, but I just kind of thought it'd always be there. Now that also is history. We will never again swim there, play sports there, throw another Halloween party upstairs, flirt with a cute girl, wage a Risk war with the controller of the Middle EAst getting the hookah, or paint warhammer miniatures downstairs until we all pass out on the concrete floor. My last look at the Berumen's was in the pool area... watching the little waterfall trickle slowly out of the plant forest, off the long rock, and into the shallow end.

That night I thought I heard gravel at my window. This was the old signal that Creed (my neighbor friend) would use when he wanted to get my attention late night - small pebbles against my upstairs screen. I didn't think it was possible that this would be him. I was in a different room (my sisters long since occupying my old room), and he didn't live there anymore except a couple of times a year when he visited. Still I checked. No Creed. No hide and go seek in the dark. Just Fort Smith. An old place that was home for nine years, but a place that hasnt been home for nearly that long.

Sorry for the nostalgia.


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