On my way back home from the Teton Mountain Runs, I stopped by a town from my childhood. I only spent a year there, my parents were teachers and landed here after our previous school closed. It wasn’t a good landing spot and we moved again soon after. But that’s not what I stopped here for.
The prompt involving age gap had me thinking back to a more pleasant memory from this place. Harrisburg, Nebraska: population 88. Notable for being the only town in Banner County, so it has all the government offices and buildings required…in a town of 88 people. As one may imagine, it could be quite insular.
I was in the 6th grade when my mom enrolled myself and my sister in a tumbling gymnastics class at the old gymnasium behind our teachers’ housing. Largely because it was the only thing to do. Obviously did not become my sport of choice, me being maybe the most inflexible and uncoordinated person you may meet!
But the coming of age story was Erica, the most advanced gymnastics student in the class. She would have been a 9th grader, I think. The curious thing about Erica is that she simply went to the gym from school, stripped off her shirt and shorts and did her gymnastics training in bra and panties!
I was at that impressionable age in an insular, conservative Nebraska where it was rare to see a bikini worn at a pool! Seeing an older girl in her bra and panties was quite risque! To see her twisting and bending over in said panties was especially intriguing to my young eyes!
She didn’t seem at all concerned about showing off her scantily clad body, though maybe with myself just being an elementary school kid, she didn’t deem me old enough to be a concern. A mere three year age gap was quite significant at that developmental age.
But I’m not a boy now, I’m a man.
So on a whim, I stopped by the old gym behind my old house. Why? To go back to the place of that impressionable boy and say, “Look at me! I’m a man now!?”
To display my manhood in rebuke and proclaim, “Look at this! I’m grown up enough now!”
I don’t know. I had just run up four mountain peaks in two days with minimal sleep driving a long, lonely road with few radio stations and thoughts of the past in my head. I do know the old gym is now condemned. Asbestos.
Good thing we didn’t stay long here. Sometimes, there’s no going back. And that’s good.