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Cleared to land | Words with Sox

In the beginning

Whenever I hear someone say “Don’t worry, you’ll find a way to land on your feet.” it reminds me of something that happened to me when I was little. For those that don’t know, my family moved to Maryland in the early 80s. The neighborhood was quite new and as such we had what amounted to a rather exciting, and thus unsafe, playground. There were model homes, partially built houses, construction equipment, big holes with no way out, and stairways to nowhere. All in all lots of cool things for an elementary schooler.

We never did any damage (ok one kid did.. but that’s another story) but we did like to do things like scrounge around and find scrap wood to make ramps for our bikes, or makeshift see-saws. Sometimes we would get a shirtload of rocks. No this is not a euphemism for another word, I literally mean that we would load up our shirts kangaroo pouch style. We would take them to the woods to see if we could hit a big knot on a tree or use them like chalk to write on concrete slabs before the flooring was put in. Often times we’d leave messages for the workers, asking them to leave a soda for us to drink (add to the list of bad ideas). Once we wrote that we were the ghost of someone that was buried behind the walls. I think we said that we would haunt them forever or maybe asked for money or something as a tribute (again probably soda).

Back on track

Anyhow… what was my point? oh right… the landing.

So in the spirit of not quite finished houses we found one that was rather unique. It was mostly framed in and had most of the walls up. There was no staircase to the basement or second floor but there was a ladder. Of course we knew better than to trust going up or down ladders because it was commonplace for whoever you were with to remove it and trap you. Which was fine if the house didn’t have walls yet, because you could use the framing as a sort of ladder. Basement was trickier, Sometimes you could put enough things together to climb on and get out… but other times you just had to convince a passer by that you were the nephew of the builder and that he let us play in there. (yes mom I realize that this story is making you very nervous. But everything turned out just fine)

Focus Pete

Ok.. back on track seriously this time. There was a house with a deck and a basement. The deck was on the first floor as you enter from the front of the house, but because of the slope of things, it was one story off the ground. There were many opportunities to do stupid things and this house presented us with a new one. You see, you can’t typically jump off of the second story, because you can’t get there. Stairs typically meant that walls and windows and such are in place. But this time, no stairs were needed to provide a second story leap. And thus, the boldness left us as we all considered the viability of the scenario. So the oldest kid (by like a year) jumped first. Landed on his feet, did a little roll. And sat there winded looking up at us. He seemed to have no problem. I can’t remember who did or did not jump after that, honestly I don’t even remember who the heck the kids were. I decided that I knew it would be safe.

So I jumped. Landed on my feet. My knees slammed up into my chest and stunned me a bit. I didn’t fall. I just sat down. Winded but ok.

I wondered if the same thing happened to the others. If they kept it from me so I would jump. Did they hide it so that they would seem tough? or because they wanted me to share in the “suffering” like they did? or… did they figure that I’d be ok just like they were once I had a minute to recover?

I knew I would land on my feet.

I knew it was safe.

But man did it hurt.

Grounded

So that’s what I think of when someone says that. ‘Don’t worry, you’ll find a way to land on your feet.” In my head add on the bit “your knees may slam into your chest and you might get the wind knocked out of you. Maybe you’ll get a bruise or jam a finger. I still can feel that knot in my gut and a strain in my knees when those words are said. Like some sort of phantom psychosomatic-ish physical memory from the long ago leap. I know it’s not the same as most land on your feet situations. For one thing, it is more than likely a metaphorical statement instead of a literal. The other key difference is that it is rare for a land on your feet type event to be one you choose to enter into.

 

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