LARGO, MARYLAND (Teenager)
Growing up from the earliest part of your life, childhood, until you left your parents’ home, we have all heard them tell us don’t go somewhere, don’t hang out with someone or don’t do certain things. What do we do at that age, we want to go explorer and continue doing what we think is right and what we want to do, despite knowing the punishment we will face if our parent’s, especially our mother, caught us defying them. This was the same thing my mother would always tell me when we lived in a small town called Largo, which was established in the late 1970’s, risen from dense woodland. In one part of the town, there was somewhat of a clearing, where you would think they were going to build one or two houses, but the ground was never broken. So this huge clearing went from dirt and mud to growing green grass, which may have been at least five feet tall at one point and where a skinny dirt path was somehow created alongside a creek. This creek flowed through parts of the town, and whenever it rained heavy enough, the main bridge that you had to take to get into the neighborhood would be flooded. Living there long enough, and experiencing some of the weather patterns when it rained, you could easily figure out that the creek would rise above the level of the bridge and at times even nearly submerging the bridge.
Now the bridge was only maybe ten feet above the flowing creek, but the banks of the creek were not properly built to withstand rising levels. It became such a problem that those that lived on the edge of the creek, whose backyards laid adjacent to the banks, kept getting their basements or first floors flooded with dirty, muddy and sandy water. The creek really smelled over time and never turned back to the color of water and where you could see the bottom anymore. Finally, the town rebuilt the banks of the creek and no more flooding of the bridge, which had to be repaired due to the crap in the water constantly flooding. However, before all that even became a huge issue, for those reasons alone about the creek, my mother, and most parent’s, would tell their kids to stay away from the creek and not go down to that part of the neighborhood. Despite all that happened, however, the creek, which encompassed the open grassy area where the new homes were never built, some of our memories come from being in the forbidden land. We all knew that we would be crucified when one of our friends nearly drowned in the creek, and was completely drenched in that dirty creek water from the neck down. To give you the background of how that happened, think about the curiosity of a child, or young teenager, and how they try to use their mind to engineer things to accomplish something else.
Well, we didn’t engineer anything except heartache, emotional instability and the wrath from our parents who were, obviously, angry and ready to knock our heads off with anything they could find. When this happened, there were probably six to seven of us standing on one side of the creek looking over at the other side, figuring out how to get over and expand our Louis and Clark expedition like motivation. There was a massive tree that some time ago fell across the creek, and possible to use to shimmy your way across, but it was too unstable and didn’t quite fall to the ground. So although the tree was the best way for us to cross the creek onto the other side, it wasn’t low enough or we weren’t tall enough to reach it easily. Not to mention the part you could easily reach was over one part of the creek, and if you stepped in the water the bottom would give way and cause your foot to be submerged. With that out of our option of possibility, we either had to walk through the water or attempt to jump across and land in the middle of the creek on some small patch of rocks and dirt that stuck out high enough above the water level. One friend, who was crazy enough to attempt some shit like that, actually got a running start and jumped across to that rocky landing. Even though he made it across the first part of the creek, he still had an even bigger jump from the rocky landing to other shore line, which was impossible to make without going into the water.
However, when he made the first jump across, part of the rocky, dirt landing area sunk underneath his feet, which nearly made him go under. He was able to grab on to the rest of the landing and pull himself up, but we all quickly realized that jumping on that landing would not be the best way to go. So our last course of action was to walk through the water, which was raging underneath, unknown to us, but you would think we would use common sense to just turn around and go home. One friend, who was a girl and played tackle football with us, attempted to walk across by going through the water, which, of course, would require her feet to touch the bottom of the creek. She quickly found out that was not very smart as she quickly started to sink through the creek bed the further she went into the water. It got to a point where she began to panic and tried to turn around to come back, but by then she was too far into the water and her feet got stuck underneath the creek floor. Almost immediately she began to panic as she started crying and yelling out to us to help her because her feet were stuck and she was still sinking through the creek floor. At this point you could see that she started at waist high and now at neck high within a matter of minutes of being in the water. Thank God, we had one friend who knew how to swim, but his problem would be seeing her feet under the water.
See, the creek was always brown and dirty, and when he went under the water to free her feet, he had his eyes closed and used his hands to feel his way; while they were both kicking up the sandy bottom polluting the water even more. He came up numerous times to catch his breath, but had me hold the girl’s hands and arms so she would stop sinking while he attempted to free her feet blindly. Obviously, she was panicked, but while he was doing that she kept kicking up more of the sandy bottom and sending herself further underwater. I did my best to keep her calm above the water, while he worked his ass off to free her feet from the quicksand bottom. I was partially in the water up to my waist and did my best not to get myself stuck as the bottom kept sinking and sliding, which kept my feet moving. I don’t know, but maybe about several minutes later, we were able to free her from the water, although she was free from danger and out of the water, she was more disturbed that she lost her shoe. My best buddy did his best to find her shoe under the water, and shifted through the sandy bottom for it, but never found it. Of course, we all feel defeated about the effort, but soon that feeling was turned to fear as we made our way home on our bikes and on foot. I can’t remember what happened to us when we all got home, but I do believe I was grounded for at least a week.
Even after everyone served their corporal punishment within their confines of the family court, we soon slowly made our way back down to the creek, but much smarter than before and never attempted to go across it again. I do believe, however, all of us that were there that day watching our friend nearly drown in dirty creek water, were seriously affected by it. We hardly ever talked about it and moved on with our childhood lives like nothing ever happened. It was amazing how we were there for each other when shit went south very quick, but got on each other’s nerves at times through our growth. How many children or kids can say that now with our society more technical and full of computers than before when all that happened. Oh, and I think the girl that nearly drowned lost either money, keys or something of value under the creek water that she had in her jeans. Oh well, at least I know her shoe is part of the history of that creek and who knows where it is now and what condition it is in at this point several years later. God only knows.