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My brother David decided one afternoon that he was going to take me on an adventure. He came to this decision after smoking pot and watching the Disney version of Alice in Wonderland. I, being a child of nine, thought it sounded fun. My parents weren't home and my brother was supposed to be watching me. Mom and Dad usually didn't like me going too far from the house when they weren't there. That's why I questioned was how long it would take.
“We'll be back before they get home,” he told me.
That sounded good to me. I said I'd go with him.
We started off by walking over the hills and crossing the stream in the cow pasture that's across the road from my house. I showed him the group of trees near the far end of the field that was over grown and full of vines to swing on and logs to hide behind. I told him I called it Sherwood Forrest. It seemed like great news to him because he acted very excited, but to my disappointment we did not stop there. It seems that my brother had a destination in mind.
We left the pasture and crossed through the corner of the forested ridges that begin around my house. We followed a path that my neighbor used to ride her horse on. We walked through freshly turned fields and grassy ones that had no productive purpose. Finally after all of the open land we ran into an obstacle. The obstacle is called route 283.
My brother and I hopped the fence that is meant to keep people and animals away from the highway. It wasn't until my brother climbed the embankment and had a leg over the metal barrier set up to keep cars from crashing into the ditch I stood in that I had enough courage to ask him a question.
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"My Adventure with Drugs." 123HelpMe.com. 20 Aug 2019
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“Isn't this illegal?” I asked.
“Yeah, but what does it really matter. We're just crossing a road. The cops can't exactly pull you over for that.”
I climbed the bank and stood beside him watching to see where there was a break in oncoming traffic. Traffic was slow heading west so we crossed very quickly. The eastern bound lanes, however, were full of cars loudly cruising by at about sixty miles per hour, if not faster. I didn't trust the hill that the cars would appear over. It wasn't far enough away to allow us to judge the traffic very well. Eventually, with David pulling me along, he got me to cross the lanes just before more traffic crested the hill. On the other side there was another fence to cross and a slope to go down. We found ourselves at the end of a small, private lane.
My brother took a moment to gain his sense of which direction to head in. We walked south-east towards the Conewago Trail and the creek beside it. I knew the land around my house pretty well for my age. Riding my bike out towards the trail was a personal adventure I'd take sometimes, but I'd never go near the underpass the highway went over. I only really knew that area from driving by it and Girl Scout outings. After crossing more grassy land and forest we met up with the trail. Rather than take the main trail full of pedestrians, we took a side path that was parallel to the creek.
“Have you ever been to the rocks?” my brother asked me.
“Well that's where we're going,” he said with a smile.
The twisted path was worn in by whoever was trying to find the rocks my brother spoke of. It was rather muddy from the rain we'd been having and roots and stones were ready to trip the less cautious traveler. I made sure to watch the step I took and calculate the footing of the next to come. Eventually the path met up with the bank of the creek.
There were rocks that needed to be climbed and stepping stones placed across the entire stream. The rocks were set in a manner that resembled a toothed bridge that snaked you down it in a jagged path rather than just taking you across the water. A few trees grew between the larger stone bodies. They were mostly birches. The entire place seemed unreal with all of the yellowing leaves that fell and were tossed between rocks while traveling on the water. It was beautiful. I climbed out somewhere near the middle of the stones and water. David was ahead of me. When I looked up to see where he was I noticed that there was a gathering of people a couple of yards away lounging on the rocks and talking. He told me to wait where I was and he'd be back in a few minutes. I sat on a large grouping of rocks that had a tree between them. I played with twigs, pebbles, and small shells by throwing them into or running them through the water.
I saw my brother talk to the hippies. I watched him taking hits from the various paraphernalia that they had between them. This place where people hung out and did drugs was called Aberdeen , but most of its frequenters called it “the rocks”. I had no concept of drugs at that point in my life. I only knew that they were bad for you to do and I wasn't going to do them. It was hard for me to recognize the part they played in David's life. He sat, smoked, and talked with them for a few minutes before he bought some weed from one and began to climb rocks back towards me.
“Cross to the other side,” he told me.
It was really hard to get over to the opposite bank from where I had been sitting. I had to climb the stones downstream before I could go upstream. I traveled to where my brother crossed but it was too far for me to jump. I had to step from stone to stone back up the stream. The stones were getting smaller and farther apart the more I went upstream. My sneakers were starting to get pretty wet by the time I reached a small island that would allow me to cross the stream. I was damp and getting cold and hungry. It seemed like we'd been gone a long time too. I asked David what we were going to do.
“I guess we'll head home,” he said.
We made our way uphill and away from the creek. I looked back to see the old house we'd just passed and the rock littered stream that seemed beautiful to me at the time. Once out of sight of the creek the trees were green again and the sky was turning orange and pink at its hem. We walked through another pasture and encountered the sheep that inhabited it. We chased them down a hillside.
“Quick, we've gotta get out of here before they come back or they'll get us,” David yelled. He loved acting out pretend situations with me when I was young. We ran our fastest to the fence marking the end of the pasture. Just after we climbed over all the rusted metal and barbed wire we saw the sheep had circled back to where we'd first seen them. We laughed loudly to each other.
“Not this time sheep,” I said to the animals that had no mind to care about what I had to tell them. My brother continued laughing, but not at the sheep.
We crossed through some woods and wound up at the highway again, but this time further west. Traffic looked like it was picking up in both directions. We climbed the fence that seemed higher than it was where we first crossed. Once we got up to the roadside we began scanning traffic.
“Cop!” I yelled.
My brother asked me where as he hunkered down on the slope beside the highway. I figured I didn't have to answer him because he couldn't see the cars from where he was. I wasn't even sure if the car I saw really was a police vehicle. At that point in time my brother was on probation and wasn't looking to get in trouble with the law again. We waited a few minutes before trying to cross 283 once more.
My brother ran between cars and was on the other side of the highway before I had even crossed the east bound lanes. I eventually worked up the courage to run across like he did. I was out of breath by the time I crossed to the other side. The fence surrounding the highway was now up hill and really hard for me to get over. Once we got to the top of the hill we saw a small area fenced in to our right. The fence was an electric one. David wondered aloud about what it would feel like to grab onto. With a strong will to impress, I walked over to the wires and intended to touch them. I hesitated a lot before grabbing the top wire.
The shock seemed like a fierce pulsation through my entire body. I had sense enough to let go of the wire and walk away from the fence, but it was hard for me to move my limbs and I felt incredibly lightheaded. My brother was laughing beyond control and was barely able to ask if I was alright. My eyes were spilling out tears uncontrollably, and it was hard for me to answer him and say I'd be fine.
“Are you sure?” he asked as he began to contain his laughter after watching me shake and cry.
“Yeah,” I said. I held out my hand and watched it shake. I didn't feel like I was shaking. I felt very still as far as I knew.
“Shit,” he said to me, “I didn't think you were going to do that.”
I gave a wobbly shrug and we started walking again, just a little bit more slowly. We walked across another freshly turned field. The piles of dirt made it hard to walk and the smell of the fertilizer and the nearby chicken coup was extremely nauseating. With our stomachs barely intact we found sanctuary in the nearest tree line. There was a pond there full of cattails and bullfrogs. I had a few failed attempts at trying to catch the frogs before I decided to sit down and listen to them melodiously croak. My brother sat beside a tree and took out a pipe he'd made from random nuts and things he had found at a hardware store.
“Want to take a hit?” he asked me in a chocked voice.
“No, drugs are horrible. They can ruin your life.”
He was sitting just a couple yards away from me. He told me it was a shame that I didn't want to get high with him and went on to explain how good it felt to him. He was good enough to respect my decision. He continued to talk to me after that about politics, or at least his version in which the government is conspiring against everyone, and various other things about his life.
“You had fun today, right kid?” he asked.
“Good,” he said with a smile.
We stood up and walked the last stretch to home. By now the sun was barely even visible over the horizon and every tree had a shadow about twice its size spread out across the fields. We crossed the creek in the cow pasture across from my house and we could see my brick home between the tall juniper trees. As we got closer I could hear my dad whistling for me as he always did to call me home when I was playing outside. I ran across my yard to meet him. My brother continued walking a bit further behind me. “Where were you?” my father asked in the stern voice he used when I'd done something wrong
. I just stood still and quietly as I tended to do, and still do for that matter, when people seem upset with me. My father went on to explain that my mother was out looking for us now and that they had been searching for us for the past hour. My mother happened to be pulling into the driveway moments after he said that. My brother was trying to explain that we just went for a walk when my mother walked into the conversation. She called David inside and my dad followed. I could hear her yelling things at my brother such as “we were worried” and “what were you thinking”. I just sat in the lawn and tried to ignore it. I didn't understand that they thought my brother was a bad influence and they didn't want him spending too much time with me. I didn't comprehend everything there was to consider in any position other than mine. I should have stayed home and used good sense rather than go for a walk with my brother, but they weren't upset with me for that. I was happy with the fact that I wasn't in trouble, and to me the memory of that walk with my brother remained a completely happy one.
It wasn't until later that I understood why certain things occurred and the importance David's drug habit played into that walk. My brother is in prison now, and I have had a full understanding of why my parents reacted the way they did to him for many years now. In my mind though, I will innocently accept David for what he's meant to me despite his poor decisions. It seems the scenery may have been beautiful and the walk fun, but the path was ready to trip those who didn't walk carefully.