i was rolling through some old pictures for amusement, and boredom. over christmas i obtained damn near every picture of the grimes family ever taken. it was part of a large scale, majestic and emotionally significant present for our mom. in any case, my parents loved to take pictures of their children, and just store them away without ever looking at them, because some of them i don't ever remember seeing. however, i've figured out two things about my brothers. scott's sole purpose in life has been to transform him self to large rimmed glasses boy, to slick talking bad ass. and corey... god damn... his entire life has been one massive growth spurt. a picture from just a few years ago shows him no bigger than me. and then suddenly he's looming over me like some horror movie character. suffice to say the only direction i have grown is outward.
bob is the first to die. i've never heard bob scream, but i can only imagine a yell that loud came from him. he's always been loud. even when we were in the library during high school, the librarian would always be riding his ass about talking loud. he's probably the one who attracted that beast towards our campsite in the first place. he was telling some stupid story about college, making sure the camper's miles away heard us. i can't tell you how sick of the "obnoxiously drunk" stories i am. but it looks like they just finally caught up with old bob. there was a loud crash right before i heard the scream. and then he pleaded for help. i stopped for a moment, realizing it might be the last before i had to take off running again. a lot went through my head listening to him be torn apart. but the one thought that never occured to me was to go back and help. whatever was ripping him apart, was doing one very precise, practiced job. the screams lasted no more than ten seconds. i sucked in air like i was preparing for the end. then i took off again.
there's one really funny picture from my preschool years. remember when they used to line up your whole class for the group picture. looking at those pictures now, and how far away all those years are, you can't help but smile. i went to preschool in this church, which is now a night club, fancy that. i think it was presbyterian, or methodist, or one of those kooky christian sects. they marched us all into the basement, and rearranged us to get every one's face in the middle. i was average then, because i'm in the middle row. my mom happens to walk in when they are getting ready to shoot this thing. she had come to pick me up, and when i saw her i decided i no longer wanted to be there. i wanted to go home. so i start crying and making a terribly childish fuss. they tell my mother to wait out in the hallway until it's finished, but i just kept on crying. so my preschool picture has a disgruntled bleached blond brad in the middle row. arms crossed in an embarrassing "michelle tanner" way.
i never thought smoking was bad. i'm young and prone to mistakes. and a pack a day was never a problem for me. sure my former girlfriends never liked it. even the ones that smoked. i use to think i had control over it, but i'm sure of it now that i don't. in the woods, running like hell i realize how big of a mistake smoking really is. when you take off running, with everything you got, those lungs that you've so elegantly neglected all these years, they begin to ask questions. when you don't answer those questions, your lungs begin to laugh at you. needless to say, they need you to survive, but they also realize the level of stupidity you have failed to see all along. so they refuse to take in the oxygen you so desperately need. you get dizzy, and your legs start to burn. but it's not like fire burning, but like they are stretching apart because of horrible friction. the last time i think i ran, was freshman year. i used to laugh at all those stupid guys with the tight running shorts, charging up fifth with their ipods, and sweat.
there's an endless assortment of sports pictures. baseball, soccer, basketball, football, swimming. all three of us were fairly active growing up. our parents couldn't fathom us being sluggish, feeble ingrates. so they were always riding us to and from any number of these practices. i can't say i remember a game that they were unable to attend. thinking about that now, it's really mind blowing. especially when i listen to the trials and tribulations of my dad's employment during the 80's and 90's. i sifted through some of these pictures, and for a moment completely speechless at the changes we've all gone through. my dad is in a few of these photos, having been a coach for baseball i suppose. he's got his thick black mustache in those photos. i often try and tempt him to grow it back. but he laughs it off and i know he's thinking "fuck that." classic.
i hear kelly go down next. and i'm not even curious about that one. i know it's her. i'd recognize that cry of agony anywhere. for awhile, kelly and i were... friends. not run of the mill friends. more like "i can't fucking believe i have a twenty page paper due tomorrow. let's have sex." friends. that's complicated. that's the only thing i am thinking about while i hear her screaming her guts out, and quite possibly having her guts ripped out. that whole situation was just, complicated. when it first started happening, it was just harmless friday night, drunken makeouts. then it turned into saturday night blow jobs. but within two months, it was steady three to four nights a week sex. we were doing other things, that some might call dates. but they never felt that way. maybe they did to her. but she started seeing some professor and then things just sorta slid downhill. there was still awkward tension when we went camping that night, but i suppose i don't have to worry about it now. i could hear her screams even while i was still running.
possibly even more numerous than the sporting photos are the boy scout pictures. all three of us were in cub and boy scouts. there's plenty of pictures from camping trips, backpacking, canoeing, and all those other outdoor things. there's court of honor pictures. this is the ceremony in which boy scouts receive merit badges, and other honors. and philmont. my dad and his three trips to new mexico with his sons. philmont is this large ranch owned by the BSA in northern New Mexico. it's a barren wasteland and a monument to simplicity. ever since moving out, i've questioned the motives of the boy scouts. i think more important than that, is that i've questioned what i personally got out of boy scouts. i've said harsh things, some maybe true, some maybe not. but it's really a unique thing, when fathers get together and teach their young collectively as a group. teamwork, responsibility, and acceptance. however, there were just some of the parents that didn't like my smart ass mouth, and so that just is not where i fit in.
there were only two of us left running at this point. myself, and danny. danny was kelly's new boyfriend. and she just couldn't wait to flaunt him off in front of us. we heard endlessly, for hours, about his whole... medical school thing. he was quiet about it for the most part. he kept trying to change the subject, talking about the school's almost perfect football record. all in all, he seemed like a pretty chill dude. but that made no difference now. i could hear him running next to me. not the thrash-thrash of his footsteps, but the heavy wheezing of his breath. i called out to him, and he called back. neither of us stopped running. but we started to run towards each other. the creature behind us, let out a great big howl, and resumed it's hunt. danny asks me what the hell that thing is. i say i don't know, don't care. he asks me if i have the keys for the car. i do.
there's photos of the trips we've taken over the years. vacations to the beach, motor home excursions to god knows where, america. there are photos of mt. rushmore, disneyland, universal studios, the golden gate bridge, custer's last stand, erie, the smoky mountains, the corn palace, white water rafting, fort sumter, skiing, and other moments that are gone but not forgotten. it's interesting to look at these pictures, from my perspective because i barely have enough money to survive. i realize at some point sacrifices must be made. but thinking about raising a family of my own is such a far off idea, i can't even explain it. when i think about kids, i see this great big black void. i talked with my dad about this recently and i asked him how he pulled this shit off, on an annual basis. he tells me one thing, "if it's important, you find a way to make it happen."
danny asks me how far to the car. i tell him we marched ten miles into the woods for seclusion. he says fuck.
last but not least, there's the photos from the last few years. these pictures tell a different tale. pictures from home tell of growing expierience. they show the tutelage of your parents as they try and raise us into sucessful young men and women. our parents instill attitudes on us whether we want to except it or not. and as much as i've tried to distance myself from them, their morals and reasonings are still very much apart of who i am, how i think, and what i want out of life. but the pictures that have been taken since i've moved out show some insubordinate form of independence. defiance, inebriation, and the downright stupid. there's pictures of my drunken self with sharpied smileys, swear words, and other symbolic messages drawn on me. there's the pub tour pictures. there's the rehoboth beach pictures in which i sunburnt the shit out of myself. there's the football games and baseball games. there's the road trip to new york. there's pictures of past loves. there's the john adams. i included an assortment of these photos onto my mom's christmas present.
i see the clearing with the cars. there are probably a dozen or so cars in the parking lot, but only one concerns me at the moment. the creature for some bizarre reason is circling us. i've watched it round us. like i said before, it's a unique situation to be the prey. it must be equally interesting to be the predator. especially when said predator has you surrounded. a predator can take his time. he can taunt, if he chooses, because the ball is in his court. i realize both of us aren't going to make it. there's just no way. if we are lucky one of us will though. i guess when i pondered death, i never though it would be at the end of a ten mile super run, being eaten alive by some unseen creature that can mow people down at his choosing. danny asks me what it's doing. i don't reply with words but instead i push him to the ground. he falls face first into the ground. i reach the parking lot, and can hear him screaming at me. then i hear him just plain screaming. it's more painful to listen to than i thought it would be. because instead of just his screaming, i hear my own. i jam the key into the lock and open the car door. i lock the doors, thinking about how ridiculous that is. a creature with that speed and agility will have no problem slamming through a window. i have the car in drive, before i even realize it is. and now i am speeding along, getting as far away from those woods as possible.
the christmas present to my mother was a digital photo frame. i loaded it up with pictures both past and present. i even included a picture of harrison ford as indiana jones. it's always been my position that a photo album without at least one picture of harrison ford is both sleazy and in poor taste. you can make up your own mind, but i know you agree with me. she unwrapped it, and not being technologically savvy, she was slightly confused at first. scott set it up, and she started to tear up. she understood almost instantly what it was. it was really a beautiful moment. the million dollar oscar award winning moment. so as i glance through all these pictures, and remember some of these things, i can't help but be humbled by every single moment. it's a permanent record of an amazing family, chance encounters, and absolutely mesmerizing friendship.