Finding Happiness

When I was younger I’d sit out by the pond in our backyard. I’d watch my parents cast their lines out into the lightly rippling waters and just wait. Sometimes it wasn’t long, other times it felt like forever. Eventually the line would pull tight and my dad would shout for me to go get the net. I’d hop up really quick and run for that net, my bare feet making footprints in the bright, green grass. I would grab the net as my dad reeled in the fish, fighting with it. They sure didn’t want to give up. It was a back and forth battle, my dad reeling and the fish swimming away, but there was always that one last pull, the last reel and the fish would be flopping at the surface, splashing the water everywhere. I would smile at my dad as I got down and dipped my net into the water, scooping up the fish with a brightness in my eyes that could never be matched. Part one of my job was done.
My dad would smile at me as he unhooked the fish. He’d hand it to me and I’d carry it over to the tackle box, waiting for the moment of truth. He’d pull out the scale and we’d hook the fish to it and just let it hang while the little piece of equipment did its magic. Each time the fish seemed to get heavier. Some of them were only six pounds, the babies. Some of them, though, were thirteen pounds. My dad would laugh his hearty laugh, unhook the fish again, and get out his tape measure. I’d hold the fish in my arms as he measured it from head to tail. It was about twenty-two inches. I’d put it in the bucket and smile as it flopped around. He would be our dinner that night. Then my step-mom would shout out, exclaiming that she captured yet another bass. I would spring back up and run over, net at the ready as the process began again.
Lots of summer days were like that. Summer nights, though, they were special. Sometimes we’d roast hot-dogs over the fire, and sometimes we’d just eat dinner really quickly before heading out and sitting under the stars in our backyard as the smoke rose into the black sky. There was always a fire, though. Even if we didn’t have hot-dogs we had marshmallows. We’d stab our black pokers through the gooey center and shove them into the flames. When they caught on fire we’d pull them out, smiling as we blew out the blue and orange flames. My parents would shake their heads and my siblings would murmur about how disgusting burnt marshmallows were, but I didn’t care. I’d look at them challengingly and pull the newly blackened marshmallow off the metal poker. I’d toss it into my mouth and chew as I looked up at the stars and listened to the bullfrogs croak their tune from the pond. Sometimes a bat would fly above us, circling our heads. That was always fun.
But then there were mosquitoes. Lots of them. They’d swarm us and attack, digging into our skin and creating inconvenient bumps all over our exposed skin. Sometimes I would have one. Sometimes I would have ten. It all depended on the day. It was still fun, though. It was a part of the experience. It was annoying, but it was somehow fun. It was happiness. Those mosquitoes and bats were just a part of nature, just like the fish I’d assisted in catching. And nature was always so pretty, so majestic and beautiful. Sometimes it made me wonder if anything could ever be so happy.
Now I’ll stare up at the sky from a small, fenced-in, porch-like area. It’s different than being surrounded by the trees that only gave the illusion of fencing, even though we knew we could go wherever. I’ll stand on the small concrete square, looking up at the scattered stars. There are less of them. The lights that surround block out some of the beauty. The sounds are loud and incessant, breaking the barriers of peace. There are no frogs or mosquitoes, no bats or marshmallows. I’m just alone on the small piece of concrete. But somehow I feel more at home than I ever have. It makes me wonder if I was really happy on those summer days. I know I wasn’t when the summer fell and the fall began. I wasn’t when the leaves shriveled up and snow covered the once green grass. I wasn’t when the flowers began to bloom and the thunder cracked. I was only happy when the summer days and nights were back. Was I happy because I was actually happy or was I happy because that’s all I knew and happiness was the only mechanism I had?





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hiimbob222 said...
May 28, 2011 at 9:39 am
I really loved the imagery in the story the only thing that could of made it better if their weren't so many breaks between them.
 
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