I grew up in a small town in the heart of Cajun country of south Louisiana. I was an only child on a sugar cane farm with an alcoholic father, a loving mother and a chaotic household. My mother, a seventh grade drop-out, did everything she could to keep things normal for me and most likely for herself as well. My father drank daily. And yelled daily. We lived in an old farm-house that we rented for twenty dollars a month. This is in the seventies mind you, not the early 1930s. The house had no heating or cooling. The roaches pranced around like they owned the place while the rats danced in the attic. Often I heard them fighting. At times they would fall down the walls of my room. Not exactly a place you wanted to invite friends. My days were spent alone, in my own world. I played with toy tractors and football by myself in the pasture. Our closest neighbors were an old and kind black couple. Behind my house were acres and acres of sugar cane fields. They were my escape from the chaos of my home. My favorite time of the year was spring. The cane had grown to three feet in height at this stage of their growth. That is just a bit shorter than I was at eight years old. The winds would blow swiftly yet silently across the fields. Often in the spring I would walk into the cane fields and fly my kite. The vast expanses of openness along with the spring winds were ideal for this activity.
One particular spring I purchased a baby blue paper kite from the local Ben Franklin. This was a departure from the more cool plastic bat kites of the time. Owning a paper kite would surely bring ridicule at school had my classmates found out. My father helped me construct the simple kite. Four light pieces of grooved wood and the paper itself was all that was needed for assembly. He added a long strip of a worn bed sheet, yellowish in color, as a tail. One spring Saturday morning in 1973, at age of nine, I was ready to launch my kite on its maiden voyage.
I left the house late that particular morning. My mother had prepared a lunch for me and placed it in a small brown paper bag. In the bag was a ham sandwich with mayonnaise, a bag of lays chips and a cold Winn Dixie brand of grape soda. Off I went across our pasture behind our house. Over the ditch and into the cane field I marched till I found the perfect location. I was alone. The wind blowing briskly across the tops of the sugar cane. The long leaves made a slight hissing sound as they danced in the breeze. Armed with two reels of kite string spun around an old broomstick handle, I flung my kite in the air. Up it went into the sky, the breeze lifting it skyward. Quickly it reached the end of the string. There it flew above me, its tail waiving in the wind. I pushed the broomstick handle into the ground to free my hands. I looked into the clear sky, dotted with fluffy white clouds, at my kite flying so majestically. It was simply beautiful.
I don’t remember the amount of time I spent in the field that day. It felt like an eternity. I spread my small body between two rows of sugar cane with my feet just barely touching the infant stalks of cane. The ground below me was cool against my back. It was slightly hard from the drizzle of rain the day before. The cool ground was a sharp contrast the warm sun shining from above onto the front of my body. I ate my lunch there, carefully placing the trash back into the bag. My dog Flag visited me at one point. I even napped. All the time, my kite just flew above me. When the wind picked up I could hear the rustling against the paper. I felt so free. So at peace. I felt my house of chaos was a million miles away when in reality, it was only a few hundred yards south of me.
I remember that day vividly, even to this day. The memory is a short film captured for my mind to play whenever I want to revisit. I can still feel the cold ground below me. I can still hear the kite rustling in the breeze. I remember the cold can of check soda, the outside of the can covered in beads of water caused by condensation. When I want to relax I just hit the start button and play this moment in time. It soothes me even these many years later. I often hope that when I pass on that I can revisit that day. Perhaps I can hover above that scene and see the happiness, if just for that day, in my eyes. It was for me, at that time, a heavenly day.
It was the best day of my life.
This was written for Yeah Write Week #99.