We all went to Elementary, middle, and high school together.  Played little league and went to church together.  One was even my college roomate.
We all went to Elementary, middle, and high school together. Played little league, joined boy scouts and went to church together. One was even my college roomate.

We spent most of the night filling up water balloons.

Trent was the quarterback of the sophomore football team, lived about a block away, and was having a backyard party. Normally we would spend Friday night looking for girls, but they were all at Trent’s party. He was a year older than us, and no matter how cool you are, you can’t compete with that.

As we left my house and rounded the corner a Jeep came screeching to a halt, spilling out its human contents. “Where do you guys think you’re going?” the voice asked from behind the headlights.
It was the Seville brothers; seniors.

We could not hide our intentions, our cargo was conspicuous. What I saw next was so inspiring that all these years later I can still picture it, in slow motion of course. One of the Sevilles took a balloon from Johnny’s hand, hopped back up into the back of the Jeep, and proceeded to send said balloon 100 yards down the street from a launcher mounted on the roll bar. I’m sure the brass at the pentagon felt the same way on the stealth’s maiden flight, a mix of awe and giddiness.
We resumed our advance with new confidence. Our numbers were increased and our allies were obviously superior.

The sound of late summer fun could be heard on the other side of the fence as we all took up position. The signal was given and latex grenades took flight up over the roof, over the fence, and out of the best assault vehicle a suburban kid had ever seen. One advantage balloons have over artillery is that there is no loud boom, nor in-flight whistle to warn the targeted of impending doom; just sweet silence.

We could actually hear the first splash, followed by high pitched screams, and low voiced curses.

The plan was to run back to my house; fast.
It started out well but as we turned to bolt, the Sevilles turned on us. They were behind us, still had extra balloons, and shouted, “there they are,” pointing at us. We were trapped. Sophomores from the party in front of us, seniors behind us, time for plan B, the suburban scatter.
It is standard that when being pursued in a residential neighborhood you hop a fence and make your escape through back yards, trusting that you will regroup later. Every man for himself.

Proverbial wisdom says that when being chased by a bear you don’t have to be fast, you just have to be faster than the next guy.
I have never been fast nor have I ever been faster than the next guy.
Brian got to the wall right before the pack of angry football players caught up to us. He didn’t have time to hop over, but he did have time to dive into the bushes, I only had time to put my hands up in surrender.

There they were, a sophomore and senior coalition, holding me hostage with ammunition I had filled myself. They had me, but they wanted more. “Where’s the rest of ‘em?” they demanded, arms cocked, ready to throw.

I may not have been fleet of foot but that night I was quick. They did not know where Brian was, I did. They did not know Brian used to beat me up in elementary school, I did. Brian didn’t know what I was going to do, I did.

From his hiding place in the bushes Brian could not see me. I pled loudly, “I don’t know where they are, I swear!” all the while pointing to the shrubbery.

I was one of the proud few to finish that night with dry clothes. It was strange how all those upperclassmen had seemingly given up the chase and simply discarded their balloons in the bushes. How odd.
The party goers were drenched, my comrades were wet; covered in twigs, and I think the girls all went home in the Jeep. We walked slowly, and sloppily, down the street.

“Ball tomorrow?” Kirk asked. I nodded yes and went home.

Looking back

I have now been there and quite possibly done that… well more likely I was there, never did that, heard someone had once done that, and then decided to do something else.

Somewhere in Maryland.

I scroll back through the year’s posts, peruse the map, and scroll through countless photos and am surprised at all the things that never made it to the website.

There is the time in Connecticut where I was startled awake by a voice saying, “someone’s sleeping in there.”   I nervously rolled out of the hammock, stepped out of the driver’s side door, and found myself surrounded by five Police cars and twice as many officers.  The one shining a flashlight in my face asked, “what’s going on?”  I responded I was tired and decided to get some sleep before working in the morning.  He looked at the officer next to him, said, “good enough for me,” and they all drove off without another word.  I was left just standing there feeling quite wise for sleeping fully clothed.

Sometimes you just want to pull over but can't find anywhere to do it.

I never wrote about who I have noticed uses those Rascal scooters in the front of Walmarts.  Who uses them was never really the point, but what has still never ceased to bother me is that those little contraptions do not come equipped with turn signals and those who drive them neither look over their shoulders before turning, nor do they drive in straight lines.

I never did write about that night at a Jersey diner after the show in New York.  It was like a scene from a really bad movie.


I never told about the hitchhiker in North Carolina who spent five hours on the road with me.  His Navy stories were great, his preaching was inspirational but doctrinally suspect, and I felt bad for his kids.  He said he had been walking I-95 to bring people the word for over 5 years.

In upstate New York I watched a man leap over the counter in the back of Walmart to snatch a receipt out of a clerk’s hand.  She screamed in fear for her life as he ran through the entire store, straight out the front doors.  At least five employees watched curiously, and motionless, as he ran by.

Home away from home.

I never mentioned the American Antiquarian Society in Massachusetts, the Boxing Hall of Fame, my new found love of the word Hamlet to describe a country town, and I failed to write about the conversation in the men’s room in which I was told it is a proven fact that Obama is a Muslim.

Where did you go this year?

In essence I have stuck my nose in every corner of South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Jersey, and New Hampshire.

So now the inevitable question…

Now what?