Here’s another episode about why it’s amazing I am still alive. I am not sure when I became aware of consequences, but I certainly knew it by the time I was seven and in the second grade. We lived on base at the Armed Force Staff College in Norfolk, VA. If you are not familiar with military life, imagine packing up all your stuff and moving every two years. If you had too much stuff to have in your apartment or house, you either stored it or threw it out. My dad enjoyed the latter. I found my Patty Play Pal in the trash room, and I reacted as though she was murdered.
Back to our story. I did not make deep personal friendships at the age of seven. I doubt anyone does. I played with the kids who lived in our stairwell building (think skuzzy apartment building). I am sure I did not pick my friends for their brains, but then again, this this story shows I wasn’t firing all my synapses, either.
Living on an Army base in the 60s was pretty ideal. The fort was gated, and parents kept an eye on each others kids. My dad was in charge of our building, and he took his job very seriously. There were storage rooms on the second floor of every building, and no children were ever, EVER allowed in them. The doors were always locked. When I walked by them, I always felt nervous. I always wondered what on earth was in there that had to be locked up. Treasure, monsters, what?
Life went on happily until one day my little posse and I were on the second floor and found one of the storage rooms unlocked and opened! I was the oldest of the group at seven. I remember April, May and June were there. I thought that their names were beautiful. Jeeze, who does that to their kids??? Their evil two year old brother Adam was there, too.
We decided to take a look. We all trouped in, each of us very nervous and excited to be in the forbidden room. It was just luggage! That’s all that was in there!!! I told everyone not to shut the door because it had a deadbolt that I would not be able to reach, and wouldn’t know how to open. Naturally, the stupid two year old slammed that f*cking door with an evil grin.
You would have thought my father was going to beat me to death for being in that room. I absolutely freaked out. If I had been paying attention, I would have seen all the other kids were pretty calm.
I yanked on the door, tried the knob and the door would not open. It must have automatically locked and needed a key for someone to get in. In my infinite wisdom, I decided I needed to leave the room to avoid being caught by my dad. I don’t know what I thought he would do to me, but it certainly wouldn’t warrant what I decided for my plan of action.
I was panic stricken. I decided the only thing to do was to JUMP OUT OF THE SECOND STORY WINDOW. Really. The old window opened very easily. I remember the paint was very chipped. By now the other kids were saying they didn’t think this was a very good idea. I thought this was an excellent idea. Every child for themself. I crawled through the window, and hung onto the windowsill. I remember Taps was playing (this is played when flags go down on bases). I knew that I would be ok, because Superman could fly, so I could, too. Oh my God!!!! I must have been so incredibly stupid! Really, really stupid. I let go, it took about a second to hit the ground.
God, it hurt. I lay there stunned. I had all the air knocked out of me, and I was gasping for breath. As soon as I landed, I realized I had made an error in judgement. By now I could hear the kids screaming and banging on the locked door, trying to tell someone I had jumped out the window. I dragged myself into the bushes and hid. That seems logical, right?
The kids must have been rescued immediately, because I could hear my family calling for me. Once again, I decided I was in trouble, so I just stayed in the bushes, quietly going into shock.
I started dragging myself from the back of the building to the side where our backdoor was. My brother saw me, picked me up and brought me in. I remember bits and pieces after that: driving to Richmond to the hospital, getting lots and lots of xrays, and happily watching The Flintstones in the ER. Everyone was saying it was a miracle that I survived. When we got home, all the parents came over to see me. I felt like Polly Anna, or Dorothy at the end of The Wizard of Oz.
I cracked my skull. About 2 weeks later, I broke out in these funny bruises. I missed three days of school, and then went on to more high spirited adventures. My mom always told people I fell out of the window.
I say, I am crazy, but In a good way.