Saturday, February 19, 2005

7. Halcyon

Right, when I was a kid living in the States, I used to do this crazy little thing that kids over there did during the summer, I went bee hunting. Now when I say bee hunting I mean it quite literally. We would go out armed with multiple jars (our pockets permitting) and stomp out through fields of those blooming summer flowers, searching for the biggest, fattest, and meanest bees around, and I mean those huge mama blackjack honey bees whose stung hurt like a sonoabitch.

Now don't ask me why I did, it was just something us kids did then (another thing that we used to do which you may find peculiar was a little something called roof-jumping, I'll leave it to you to figure that one out). Remember, this was a time without Gameboy, PS2 or Nokia Ngage (we had those big hulking Atari machines that displayed monochrome graphics and were absolutely crap). Those who wanted to "Get 'Em All" really had to go out and do it. No Pokemon or Tamagochi to woo and tide us over.

If I really dig deep enough, I can actually recall some vivid details: the feel of the brilliant summer sun blazing overhead, the thick smell of sunflowers and pollen filling the air, the vibrant colours of all kinds of flowers amongst (sometimes) waste-high shrubs and bushes, that familiar buzz of bees going about doing their thing, and most of all, the exhilarating feeling of catching that huge monster you've been eyeing for a bit. Most of the times, I went with my best friend over there (an Italian-American kid named Jared, maybe the most horny 9 year-old who ever existed). I guess it was ok too to go alone, but it was always better to have a buddy tagging along, if only for the reason you had someone to show off to.

So we'd usually go out round the afternoon, and not head back till just about when the sun went down. And always at the end of the day, we'd hunker down at some spot, pretty knackered by the day's toil, and the both of us would be grinning crazily as only children could. And of course, we'd compare who got the biggest catch. Heck, we even compared the number of times we got stung (bee stings were always displayed like a badge of honour, with the day's bragging rights going to those with the most). Then we'd head back, exhausted with the backs of our shirts slick with sweat, our shadows long as the sun slowly sank and that magical time of dusk came upon us, and we'd chat animatedly about nothing, asking each other irrelevant questions as kids did, all the while comforted with this great sense of fulfilment of a day well spent. I'd look at him and see this gleeful glow in his face that I knew was mirrored on mine as well. It was a glow that said: it doesn't get any better than this.

Now I don't know why this memory has suddenly crept up on me. Maybe it's because the shadow of another inevitable birthday approaching has been nagging the back of my mind for the past few weeks and somehow, unexpectedly running into someone very dear to me from my past today has managed to make it a non-issue. And in turn, that's triggered this long dormant memory. Whatever it is, it’s good to be reminded of these little things that brought such joy in our childhood, no matter how simple they seem. And though glossed-up they may be (cause we tend to look back at those years through rose-tinted glasses), those memories serve to remind us of things we may have forgotten, maybe the most important things. And it's not about getting that bigger car, that higher paycheck, that big screen plasma TV (nice!). But rather, those irreplaceable joys of certain moments in your life that are just perfect, and the people you spend it with.

But of course, that memory of bee hunting I have, precious as it is, is but a melancholy vista of my youth. I've long since lost contact with that childhood friend of mine, and I doubt that I'd be able to locate him again. The places we haunted perhaps no longer exist as I remember them, and maybe those wonderful summers can never quite be relived again as an adult as they were when you were a kid. Those were the halcyon days, and we each of us have them, blissful memories of days long since past. And sometimes, these memories tend to fade away, dulled by the realities of adulthood, and dimmed by more pressing responsibilities and commitments.

But you know what? No matter how improbable it sounds, and call it want you want, faith, hope, whatever, I believe with absolute certainty that one day, though I don't know how, I'll get those visit those same sunny hills with my best friend Jared, with that blazing sun greeting my face, and the scent of flowers filling my nostrils, and my ears will be ringing with the busy buzz of dozens of bees doing their thing. Those huge, mean mama blackjacks kind of course.

"God gave us memory so that we might have roses in December"
- J.M. Barrie, author and playwright


oliver said...

i sense a middle-age crisis approaching...

joe said...

Yo mama