Back to the Past Through the Future

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7-11 of my dreams

The next day I got up fairly bright and early (well, 10AM is early as fuck on the weekend for a bachelor) and began hunting down places that I used to hang out. For example, the shot above is very meaningful to me. No, I don't own nor do I ever plan on buying a Mercy-B, but right on that corner used to reside a 7-11. Not just any 7-11 mind you, but the one just about a mile away from my shitty high school, DeSmet. This 7-11 was the place where Chris Burckhardt taught me how to sneak out a half a dozen Snickers Ice-Cream Bars in one large Slurpee cup (the man was a genius!). Everybody always used to walk down that wooded, narrow road to this shop almost every day, killing time until carpools showed up or friends to get done with sports. Well, I guess it's no wonder they went out of business.
"Hey, Rajik! Didn't I tell you to put out more ice-cream snacks?!"
"Umm, I did, boss, right before that group of 12 kids from the Catholic high school came in. I put out 50."



Then I found my old high school. I'm really quite impressed with how easy it was for me to find things in the old town. It had been 18 years since I was here last, and I left when I was just 15 years-old — too young to cruise around and memorize streets from the driver's seat.

Anyway, I did (kind of) run cross-country at DeSmet High, and the football field above was where the race that we hosted began that one fine Fall Saturday morning in 1989... I think it took me something like 23 minutes to run that 5K. I stopped 4 times for the dry heaves and ended up walking most of it... And I thought I was so clever for figuring out that since the coach left practices after we ran our first quarter mile that I could sneak into the locker room in the back of the school, shower, and then spend the rest of my afternoon doing my homework in the lobby before my friends were done with their sports...



This hit me hard. I know I've talked about the HELL that was my two years at DeSmet quite a bit, but I had really started to forget if not the stories, the FEELINGS that vibed off that place... Then I had to go and see the building first hand again.

I had apparently passed out shortly after the timer on my camera took this picture, and I was kicked awake by some smug baseball team members fresh from practice who started mocking me and the fetus position they found me in. I told them I just dropped a contact and that's why I was on the ground and my eyes were all watery, but that didn't explain the pile of vomit I was lying in or the fact that they had recorded me covering my ears and calling for my mommy on their cell phones for a few minutes before kicking me. That's when I Molotov Cocktailed their cars and did a couple of deep donuts on the baseball field. See, I've grown. Back when I went to school there I would have just run away like Sesame Street's Grover (hands all floppy in the wind, and screaming like a Banshee).



Yes... I am a masochist. For some reason I had to track down the parking lot where I had my Sophomore year fight. It was really strange revisiting the place that capped off the absolute worst day of my life (well, next to when Just Kidding ripped out my still beating heart, shat on it, and then stuffed it back into my chest so that the blood it pumped through me from then on would be soiled and dirty)... But this was probably the one place in all my stops that changed the absolute least. It didn't even look like the trees had grown. And I think I found a piece of Cain's tooth... Unless the DeSmet students are still using the place as their go-to rumble room. Good for them. Make some men out of them too.



After the drive-by down memory lane that was the Fight Site, I found my way back to good old Chesterfield, MO. This may look like your average, ordinary, everyday Micky D's, but this is in fact the place that Jason, Elliott, Matt, Jon, Justin, Tim, and I would bike to on the way to the movies every weekend from 5th to 10th grade and get some free mini-ice-cream cones. Then we'd wait a minute for the current person at the counter to either go to the back or hit the head and we'd ask for another free round from the replacement clerk. We were cheap little punks to be sure.


Ross House

Then I found my house... Hoooooleeeeeeee shit. Yeah, the driveway was only half the length, and maybe a fifth as steep as I remembered it, and the main street it was on was almost level when I recalled it being a veritable Mr. Everest... But this was it. The House that Father Ross Built. So many good memories: building snow forts in the winter; playing Nintendo all night with friends during slumber parties; and bribing that girl in the class below mine with a Pudding Pop to follow me into my basement and unzip my, er... Shit, still can't talk about that one until the statute of limitations expires in another 10 years. Sorry.


Ross house 2

The geriatric lady who was mowing her lawn across the street who took the first bunch of pictures of me in front of the old homestead (and who kept asking if I was her grandson Tommy) took such a long time trying to get the shutter to click that the current owners of Casa del Ross started anxiously peeking out the blinds. That's when I thought I'd give them a good scare on my way out and just did a sloooooow drive by while sticking my camera out the window for maximum effect. Then I peeled rubber while honking my horn to the tune of Dixieland.


Ascension 1

This is the playground at my old elementary school (the one about which the reunion was taking place from. Where. What?). Unfortunately it wasn't the playground that was there when I went to the school, but the fact that I could grab the top monkey bars with bended elbows cracked me up... Oh, and why the fuck weren't there any swings anymore?! Goddamn pussy parents! Breaking your arms and legs after jumping off the swings at full height is one of the rites of childhood! Children got to get busted up in order to grow!


Ascension 2

I sneaked a look into the Multi-purpose room through the glass door then... The tiles, the tables the chairs... Everything was exactly the same. It was like I took the shot 20 years ago. Weird, especially when the school doubled in size, and everything else went through a gigantic metamorphosis.


Ascension 3

I can't believe I forgot to catch a shot of me pretending that I was doing morning crossing-guard duties in my 8th grade year again at the yellow crosswalk just behind me in this picture. Being a teacher there, my mom would get to school like an hour before the first bell rang and I'd usually just stand outside in the freezing cold by myself for a half an hour before the carpools came and I had to start leading all the chillun across like the Pied Piper. But those first half hours alone were pretty damn great for a loner bitch like me (who had an older brother and a chatty sister and no peace at home). I had plenty of time to memorize the script to Transformers: The Movie, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and all of "Weird Al" Yankovic's albums..... I was a really messed up kid.


Smoke House

I would have posed on the giant brass statue of the hog in the entrance way (hidden by the Lexus here) and had a stranger take my picture, but this was one of the very few times in my life in which I would have been WAY too embarrassed to do something for the sake of a stupid shot. There were tons of children around, and even a couple of cops... If only Chi-Chi was there to bet me that I wouldn't do it... THEN I would have found the cajones to pretend I was humping that pig.


Queeny Park

After hitting my old school and getting some lunch at the Smoke House (goddamn best sandwiches on either side of the Mississippi) I went to what I remembered was the BEST park and playground I ever played on as a kid: Queeny Park. The QP was the ONLY real letdown that day...


Smoke House

Queeny Park used to be well kept, sparkly, and FILLED with picnickers and kids playing tag and flying kites and shit... That day (the Saturday on a Memorial Day weekend at 3 o'clock in the afternoon) there were maybe 6 cars in the parking lot at one time, the once-mowed giant fields were half overgrown, the pool was empty and in total disrepair, the giant lake was empty with dirty, old signs claiming that a "complete revitalization is coming in Spring '09!", and the miles-long walking paths were all broken and being swallowed up by the forest like the fungus jungles in Nausicaa... And yeah, that's a raccoon in the dumpster (a PISSED OFF raccoon in the dumpster) in the lower right pick... That one was taken near the playground.

Honestly, I was so bummed out about the Park that I just drove up and down Manchester Road for an hour or two trying to remember where things used to be. I found the old roller rink (now closed), the Blockbuster Video where my brother told a large black man that he farted (thinking he was bragging to me), and the shopping center where my old comic book store was... Well, where the comic book shop USED to be. I couldn't even locate the plot of land where the movie theater was where I first saw Transformers: The Movie with Jon all those years ago... I was just making myself more and more depressed, and I figured that that was not a good mood to be in before going to a reunion party in just a few hours. So then I went back to my hotel in order to clean myself up a bit, and make myself maybe a little bit more respectable. I had to try... After all, Jenn (the girl of my dreams when I was in grade school) was going to be there.


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