Docking on Memory Lane This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

An old rocking chair by a warm fireplace. A bay window overlooking a sandy beach. A comfy couch cushion close to the television. These locations, at first thought, seem to have no connection at all. However, all three have similarities not seen with the eyes, but felt with the heart. They are all places we might use to escape from the outside world or to reminisce on the past. They are special places. As we grow older, it becomes hard for us to take the time to return back to our special places because of work, school, and family commitments. Nonetheless, the memories that our special places give us will live with us for a lifetime.

A wooden boating dock resting in a mossy pond. This is my special place. Located right beside my grandparents’ house, this dock was more or less a best friend growing up. If I wanted to scream in frustration, I could trek to the dock and let the ripples in the water surrounding it absorb my anger as I shouted. If I wanted to splash my feet in the slightly moss-infested liquid, I could plunge them from the edge and send tsunami-like waves into the open pond. If I wanted to fish for schools of catfish, I could do so for hours without a care in the world. The dock made me feel welcomed and safe in every way imaginable.

The texture of the dock was perfect. The wood was sanded down to remove every crook and cranny that a splinter might have been hiding in. I use to run my fingers over the wood and ponder how something once so coarse and rough had become so smooth and delicate. It felt as if I was petting the fur of a kitten, clean and void of any tangles or imperfections. Furthermore, the color of the dock was incredible. When it was first being built the dock was pale and lackluster, but I watched at a distance as it was transformed into a deep shade of cherry. The overall appeal of the dock intensified as each layer of the cherry wood finish was added. When the dock was fully built, I sprawled in the center and admired the color while also gazing into the water. The pond water surrounding the dock was murky and allowed little light to delve into its depths, but on rare occasion I could faintly see the silhouettes of the catfish that existed below. If I were lucky, my grandfather would allow me to feed them from the edge of the dock and watch them splash to the surface of the calm waters and coat my feet in droplets of cool water.

When my grandpa and I fished at the dock on early mornings, we could not only see and hear the fish faintly, but we could smell them immensely. The smell of the fish reminded me of rotten seaweed masked with the musky, friendlier smell of muddy water. The aroma, terribly pungent to most individuals, was an acquired scent that reminded me of one thing when I smelled it: home. Around halfway through fishing, my grandpa would always pull two cans of Pepsi out of his tiny, cobalt-colored cooler he carried with him. We would both pop the tabs to the cans and enjoy the sweet, bubbly cola as the bobbers tapped the water.

On nights that I would stay with my grandparents, I liked to wonder off to the dock right before sundown. The perpetual sunset that could be witnessed from the dock was an awe-inspiring view of reds and oranges and yellows. As the sun sank lower and lower, the frogs and toads nearby would sing a somewhat harmonized melody of ribbits as if they knew an audience was present. The sound was enough to put me into a near-hypnotic state, leaving me wanting to remain there forever.

I recently revisited the boating dock after nearly two years of separation. Except for the cherry color being fainter and the pond enclosing it being mossier, the dock looked exactly the same. The smoothness of the wood could still be felt and the sound of the frogs seemed to be even more mesmerizing. A wave of nostalgia and a flood of memories crept into me as I remembered how much time I had spent on the dock as a child. My grandpa hiked over to me with two fishing poles in his hands and his cooler over his shoulder. We both took seats on the edge of the dock and began fishing as if the two years had never passed.





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