Bruce Springsteen writes, “…the screen door slams, Mary’s dress waves…”
How many times did the screen door slam in the summers of our cherished memory? If the handyman had fixed it right, the coiled spring drew the wood and screen panel back with astonishing authority, and God help the sibling whose fingers had been where they shouldn’t have been.
“…like a vision she dances across the porch as the radio plays…”
We danced across the porch, and off to the lawn. The colony opened for us like an old friend softly whispering of all the possibilities and delights held before our faces, just ready to be seized. Young and alive…Carpe Diem! We didn’t know what it meant, but we never failed to fulfill the admonition–“Seize the Day.”
Do you remember the daisies we pulled from the earth, to hold them in our still small hands, plucking petals and counting the cadence, “she (he) loves me, she loves me not…” Until just two or three petals remained, and how exhilarating to count ahead and discover that she did, indeed, love you?
Do you recall the smell of your first baseball mitt, held up close to cover your face while you dawdled in the field waiting for someone to hit the ball to you? It was of cowhide and sweat and “Spalding’s Glov-olium,” and it mixed with the scent of the grass and the pollen and the gentle murmur of the breeze moving so effortlessly through the woods, finally touching your forehead, so softly, like God’s kiss. And damned if you weren’t convinced that days like this were forever, and that your life would never be more complicated than deciding what to order for lunch in the concession.
Then, afterwards, you splashed into the pool. Do you remember those fat, black inner tubes? We didn’t own fancy floats or customized swim enhancements-we had tire inner tubes. They were bulky, and hot in the summer sun, and they squeaked against your skin until dampened by the chlorinated pool water. But they could be stacked up like tires outside a country store, and four or five high you could slink inside and move covertly towards your prey, anonymous frightening as you mounted your deep-end attack. Or, we could just plop our tushes into the center, legs slung over the side, and float along, lazy and happy and filled with joy. How long since you were last so content?
Later, the day endless, a cherry-lime rickey and adjourn to the swings, where you raced to secure a swing, and pumped so powerfully fast and high, your head thrown back, the colony spinning about you, singing songs in awful off-key harmony…The 4 Seasons, “Sherry”…The Zombies, “Tell Her No”…The Beach Boys, “Help Me Rhonda”….The Beatles, well, anything by the Beatles…
Until your mom screamed you in for dinner and you were inside the bungalow again, washing your hands a moment after the screen door slammed, waiting to spring open again after the meal, welcoming you again to the colony where your best dreams waited to be fulfilled, and lived, then stored away to warm you someday, one day, in the very distant future, when, not so unlike your parents were then, you’d have a life and a job and kids and maybe a mortgage, and you’d close your eyes and remember the solid, certain sound of that screen door slamming home.