I still remember vividly the times I had as a young boy growing up in my apartment complex. I was never timid, displayed by the fact that by the age of four I already had a circle of four to six friends. Everyday we would go outside, take in the warm sunlight, making up new games as we go. We would role play as TV characters, build hideouts, and even sometimes film silly videos:
This would be how I enjoyed my free time as a boy, sometimes even from 7 AM to 7 PM. But as time went on, and as my friends began to grow up, those who I once saw every single day began to move away. As a result, my group got smaller and smaller, until Bill and I were the only remaining friends.
Bill was a very generous kid, about three months my senior yet about 3 inches shorter. He spent most of his time outside (as most of us did at that age) either playing nerf or just following the rest of us. He may have been short, but Bill was the most enjoyable and emphatic presence among us. Once everyone else moved away, our time as friends only got better.
As aforementioned, we had about 12-16 “hideouts”, each designated for a specific task, such as having a party, hanging out, playing soccer, etc. But there was one hideout more discreet than the others, so discreet in fact that we used to hide our own possessions in it. Bill and I had found this hideout around the age of 8, when we had grew old enough to be able to run quickly enough away from trouble and, more importantly, be able to climb walls.
This last detail is very important as in order to access this specific hideout, you must be able to climb an approximately 6 and a half foot wall. The hideout itself was about a 75 square foot area, hidden behind a beige and barren wall separating the apartment complex parking lot from a dirt filled, wild grass ridden area:
On the opposite side of the wall was a barbed wire chain link fence, dividing the hideout from a sort of office complex. In hindsight, the hideout was more open and less secretive than we believed at the time, but even still very few knew about its existence. Some of the few that found about about its existence were my parents.
I was prohibited from entering that hideout, period. But as every little kid would do when they’re restrained from doing something, I went ahead and went there everyday, after school, during the weekend, all the time. Crossing the wall meant freedom, the wall was a barrier to fun.
This went on for about two months, until one Thursday when I came home early from school on the school bus. Bill and I had met up the hideout at about noon on a sunny and clear day in May. We were enjoying a couple of sodas while playing around with a couple of things we had in the hideout, when I had heard the distinct sound of my dad’s 2001 Dodge Intrepid. There was no mistaking it; as I looked through one of the donut sized holes in the wall, I saw my dad pulling in to park, completely unaware that I was on the other side.
I began to panic, but at the same time I was exhilarated. I had to come up with a plan quick in order to refrain from being punished. I looked at Bill, and he looked back at me, and right then I knew what we had to do. I sprinted to the very end of the hideout to reach what seemed to be a good place to cross the wall without being seen. Simultaneously, Bill began to throw rocks against the wall to make a faint enough of a noise to distract my dad but still keep his identity secret.
Things began to slow down. Every second lasted a minute, and thoughts began to race through my head. I didn’t know if I could hop the wall in one go without struggling and being seen. I didn’t even know what was on the other side of the wall. But I still jumped.
It was a perfect jump, in fact. I successfully jumped up the wall, hopped over, and landed in the adjacent dumpster without being seen. Due to all the action that had just happened, I stood oblivious to the fact that I was in a dumpster, and I remained there, stagnant, for a couple of seconds, wondering if I made too much noise or if my body was seen by my father.
Once I recollected myself, I climbed out of the dumpster and walked towards my house wondering what my excuse for being at the dumpster area was. Turns out he made my excuse for me.
“So you took out the trash?” was the first thing my dad said to me. I immediately nodded my head, elated that I had successfully concealed the truth.
That’s when I learned that some of the most fun times I had growing up were when I had all of the freedom in the world, ignoring any boundaries I may have, running around the small apartment complex Bill and I called home. The wall showed me that I didn’t need a large group of friends to enjoy myself, I didn’t need fancy toys or gadgets to have fun. Sometimes not obeying authority produces some of the most memorable moments of your life.