What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stranger

The Summer of Love and Muskets October 1, 2014

Filed under: Starting Off Strange — meganorussell @ 10:00 am
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When I was in third grade, I had a crush on a boy. A beautiful boy with dark, shining hair.  It was like living an elementary school version of The Last of the Mohicans, only I don’t think he liked me back, and I’m not sure if he had any Native American blood at all. But it didn’t matter, he was perfect to my third grade self. His family always went to the Revolutionary War reenactments that are oh so popular in upstate New York.

He would run through the field in his homespun knickers, looking like perfection in gun powder chic. And when my mother decided we were going to be reenactors, too, I was thrilled. Now I could see my black-haired love outside of the florescent lights of school. I could spend every weekend running barefoot through the battle fields. It was love like I hadn’t felt since I found out Worf’s son Alexander was just a little boy in makeup.

So, my sister and I ran around the battle field with the boy. He liked to climb on top of the sheds to watch the battles, and I snuck biker shorts under my chemise and skirt so I could follow him. We would sit on top of where the “prisoners” were kept and watch the red coats fall at the might of the colonies. It was third grade heaven.

There were a bunch of weird, scary things that hung from leather straps near the prison door. Long hair hanging from leather. The boy told me it was the scalps that had been taken from the heads of prisoners. And by God, I believed him. If the reenactment went wrong, heads might not roll, but hair would be ripped off. It was thrilling and dangerous, and he was my hero, jumping off the roof of the prison in one catlike pounce.

There may have only been blanks in the muskets. But it was real to me. Transported to a place with a dark haired hero for one lovely summer. And then he left our school. His father had been one of the best at the reenactments. Falling with glory every time. Waiting for everything to be finished before he came back out of the woods. One day he fell for real.

He had a heart attack mid battle, and no one knew. They all thought he was being as determined as always. At the end of the day, they went into the woods to find him, but it was too late. He was already gone.  The black haired boy disappeared. No one could blame him for never wanting to see a reenactment again. And my heart was destroyed. Never had love been so tough for an elementary school kid.


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