By JEFF LUND
July 06, 2018
(SitNews) Ketchikan, Alaska - Last month, I took my brother, his wife and his three kids to see the log cabin a couple buddies and I built in high school. We cut down trees with hatchets, notched them, stuffed moss between them, the whole nine yards. Since we didn’t know exactly how to cut doors, we put a platform on top of the logs, a trap door inside and large pieces of plywood for the roof. It’s still dry inside.
It’s weird showing adults part of your childhood especially if it’s something built. A fort is for little kids. What we built wasn’t a fort. It was a legit camping structure that slept six. Above it was an old seine net, 30 feet above the forest floor. That’s not a fort. That’s a compound. There was a platform and basketball hoop for 3 on 3 net ball. The platform also served as the high ground for two dudes with paint ball guns, trying to light up the runner who tried to make it through the woods to the cabin without getting tattooed.
My oldest nephew is 7 and my niece is 5. They immediately wanted to start to work on their own cabin. They are stationed with my brother at the Marine base in 29 Palms. Not a lot of logs available out there in the Mohave desert.
Behind the cabin is the start of a second. Bigger, better. But it’s unfinished. Just before we were going to start cutting a door, Rob and Lars graduated. They are a year older than me, so when they left, construction stopped.
One of the biggest lessons I learned when I graduated high school was that life isn’t necessarily cumulative. That is, you can’t take all your memories with you and you certainly can’t take all your friends or complete everything you started.
But hold on a second, that’s not as depressing as it seems. I tell my students that in order to be a true optimist, you have to be realistic otherwise you’re just naive.
We know the best, and worst, will be filed in the top drawer for easy access. As that drawer fills, things are moved and only recalled after nostalgic research to dust off the memory of things like that one time I wore white socks with my uniform at Music Fest – a memory I would not have recalled had my mom not reminded me.
It’s a little odd, but you spend all of your childhood becoming as close as possible with friends. Then you leave. Seniors know, or at least should, that there is so much more to life after graduation, but there is a difference between knowing this intellectually and experiencing it. I am in touch with some friends from high school like Rob and Lars, but I am closest with friends I’ve made since then in Arizona, California, and since moving to Ketchikan.
Life isn’t cumulative. You can’t take your friends with you to the next phase of your life. You keep the memories, but things don’t wait for you to return. Lives continue. Moss takes over unfinished cabins.
The class of 2018 was the first crop of freshmen I had at Kayhi. That means at my old school in California, there is no evidence of my ten years there except maybe an abstract Alaskan reference on the wall of a former colleagues’ classroom, or the buoy I had for my hall pass that I passed on to a friend in the English department. Other than that, I’m a teacher or coach formers Lancers had but current students don’t know.
It’s not sad. Just a fact.
Things do indeed change. We know this intellectually, but to experience it is much different.
It’s fun to remember, but reaching back too often, for too long, can be dangerous.
The cabin could be a metaphor, but maybe it’s just something we didn’t finish. A great memory, covered in moss that whenever Rob, Lars or I visit, we smile.
Simple as that.
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