I am in the park. Nay Aug Park. The ground is gravel and grass and there are cars parked sideways and next to each other under shady trees. Mom takes us here to play. There is so much to see and do. Scattered among the trees are amusement rides, old rusty ones, painted red and yellow. We can’t run from one ride to the next because we might fall and scrape our knees on the jagged grey stones. Each ride is like a magnet, shiny and bright, pulling me closer, begging to be ridden. The one that calls to me the most is the one that spins so fast that you stick to the walls and the ground falls out and you feel like you are flying in outer space. And I can ride it lots of times without getting sick, more times than my brother. And my favorite part is to watch the people across from me as they’re splattered to the sides like bugs in a cage and the girl with the long blond hair, her hair looks like its standing straight up, like electricity is shooting through her, like lightening has struck her but really its just the gravity or the lack of it that makes a wild design like fire around her face.
And there are other rides too. Kiddie rides and grown-up rides. And almost from the beginning, I go on the grown-up rides. I always feel grown-up even though I’m not. Beyond the rides, in the shady grass, there is a train. Not a whole train, just part of a train, a big piece, a link in the chain. And it’s complete, in and of itself and my brother and I, we climb on it, and kids are allowed to climb on the train pieces because it’s part of the park. And there are more trees and more kids and not too far away is a pool. A pool so big it could hold 1000 people. A cement pool. A long rectangular pool. And sometimes it’s empty and sometimes its full. And sometimes we swim in it. And there are so many people when we swim in it that I can barely see the water. And mom swims with me and she’s gorgeous. She wears a strapless bathing suit and she floats in the water near the side by the metal ladder that people use to climb in and out of the pool. And I just stare at her. I don’t really think about the swimming. I just watch her and I probably do lots of underwater flips and ask her to watch me, too.
And when we’re not in the water, we’re in the grass. And there are large gazebos in the grass with cement floors and pointy tops like the tops on the carousel. And I think the gazebos are for bands, for people to watch but there is no band today so I dance in the gazebo. No one is watching. No one is around. I just dance. I dance to my own music. I pretend there is an audience. I pretend the whole world is watching. And I throw my arms out to the sides and I spin until I am dizzy. And I spin until the trees are blurry and I spin until the light and the trees and the leaves and the shadows are spinning around like the ride that spins so fast that you stick to the walls and the ground falls out.
There is another park by my house. It’s much smaller, about the size of a shoebox. Me and my brother can walk to this park because it’s only a block away and there is a jungle gym made of wood and a tire swing and sand. And it’s boring compared to Nay Aug Park so we try to make it interesting by doing things we’re not supposed to do. The boys dare me to jump off the jungle gym. It’s way high over my head and it hurts my feet to jump off but I do it anyway. I do it because the boys are watching and because they dared me to do it. The boys keep a Playboy magazine hidden in the bushes at the park and sometimes they show it to me. The magazine makes my little brother nervous. I can tell. He’s worried he’s gonna get caught and makes me promise not to say anything. My brother is always trying to get more Playboy magazines. He thinks it’s funny. I don’t know what the big deal is.
I’ve seen mom naked and she looks just like the ladies in the Playboy magazine. One time, when we were swimming in the pool at Nay Aug Park, mom’s boobs popped out of her bathing suit. I pointed at her top and she looked down. She was so embarrassed and she quickly put her top back on. She looked a little nervous and sweaty for a while afterwards and she kept checking her bathing suit top over and over to make sure it was on right.
Mom warns us about the gorge behind Nay Aug Park. She warns us over and over again not to go in the woods behind the pool. Every year, some kids go into the woods and drink some beers and fall off the cliff and die. I worry about the gorge. It’s like a giant monster lurking in the bushes behind the pool eating up kids. I worry about the kids going into the woods and drinking some beers and falling off the cliff. I wonder why they do that. My brother isn’t scared of the woods or the gorge or the cliff. He wants to go exploring. He likes the adventure. But I won’t go exploring with him. No way. I like the rides and the spinning and the swimming and being in the pool with mom. That’s good enough for me.