Vignette Book My Name Will Keve I have often imagined the living room of my old house that we don’t live in anymore. It was, and still is, a great open room with cherry maple walls and a wide ugly carpet that felt comfortable when you lie next to the fireplace. At some time my whole family joined in this room. My mother would have been happy and nostalgic, my father happy for her, my sister bored, and my brother confused at what was going on. I am there too, but I don’t understand who these mean people are who took away my food. I like the warmth of my mother’s lap though, so I put up with it. At only two weeks old, I can hardly be tethered to my actions, but by reaching for Winnie-the-pooh, I caused a whole heap of problems. Then the suggestions were blurted out. Who on my father’s side do we still know well enough that it won’t be weird? What would he be ashamed of? Maybe just a junior? Nah, then he’d always feel like the little one. “But mom, he is the little one!”. Then when the telephone rang my mom didn’t want to ruin the moment. Enthusiastic Max ran for the phone, picked it up, and didn’t know what to say. When he handed it to my dad we learned it was great-grandpa Bill. Bill. That name is so lame. We knew he was dying though so it was the best we could do. Mother insisted. I will never call that child Bill, how about Liam? Liam and Bill are one in the same though. The story of my life, the compromise, William.
My companion Will Keve
My Father's attitude on Christmas morning really exemplifies my family. We might have been crazy, but we had fun.
My life has been a lot like a roller coaster. I have moved from house to house more times than I can count on one hand. That said, I’m not like one of those kids who constantly switches from school to school. I have never had to re acclimate myself to a new environment for an extended period of time, but I have had to deal with internal changes for as long as I can remember. When I was nine years old, my parents got into some sort of business related dispute with my aunt and uncle. They weren’t able to resolve it so they ended up abandoning the family and moved to Hawaii overnight. Without speaking to them in years, I still know that they don’t miss us over one stupid argument that didn’t even involve most of the family. They don’t exactly seem like positive role models, but they are one of only two couples in my family who haven’t undergone a divorce. It makes it seem to me that they’re not the problem, we are. I still don’t know who was right about the whole argument since I was left totally in the dark, but I know that looking back, both sides over reacted. My life has been a lot like a roller coaster, and I’m only around turn two. The safety bar that held me from flying off to my doom was my
dog. Her name was Molly, and she wasn’t perfect, but she had been with the family since the time I was born. She was a furry yellow lab who had a perpetuating desire to be around people 24/7. When we would go skiing, or if I weren’t at the same parents’ house with her, there was something different in the air. She was above all, a companion. Her favorite thing to do was play a game called “Molly Tag”, in which we gave her a large stick to protect. This would kick in her maternal instincts and she would bolt around our yard so fast we didn’t stand a chance of catching her. The goal of the game was for my siblings and I to try and retrieve the stick, but since that almost never worked, we considered even brushing her with our extended fingertips to be a small victory. The most curious thing about Molly was her infatuation with the company of other animals. When she was a puppy she would often chase animals like rabbits, deer, and even the feral cats that lived in the nearby marshes. In her failures to catch them she would always be disappointed. One day, when our neighbor found Molly chasing her cat, they freaked out! We couldn’t hear the end of how Molly was seconds from mauling this cat. Upon hearing this we nearly split our sides. Molly literally wouldn’t harm a fly. If she were a person she probably would have been a vegan. We didn’t know it at the time, but all she ever wanted to do was be friends with the animals, wild or domesticated. When she finally did enter a relationship with the nearby cat, it looked like something you’d see on Americas Funniest Home Videos. Molly would rub herself up on the side of the cat, and the cat would scratch her back until the inevitable euphoric sigh would drift from Molly’s lips. Those two were so happy until the cat’s owner tragically run over the cat. The empathy seemingly drained from Molly’s face in the following days. Despite becoming great friends with the dog who we essentially adopted when my father got remarried, Molly was never the same. She never ran quite as fast, and she would never chase another squirrel. A few years later when Molly died, it was the worst day of everyone in my family’s lives. We all knew it was coming, but the day was too much for us. We all spent the day at home with her, crying until we ran out of tears and finally brought her to the vet to be put down. I still feel that
sorrow as a stab in my chest even today. They say that you have to move on, but I certainly haven’t and I’m not sure I ever really want to. I prefer to live in my dream world where I can sit next to the fire place and scratch her ears while we watched “The Office” on my laptop together. I’ve lost my greatest companion, but through my memories, I can fulfill my selfish desires to hold on to her a little bit longer. So I’m still on this roller coaster and now I’ve lost my safety belt. There are just as many loops and drops, and I’m no better prepared than I’ve ever been. Now I only have my friends and my family to hold me from falling off, but I guess I’ve had them all along. They had just been walking in the great shadow Molly left behind. The only thing to do now is look back on the good times. Writing this helped me do that. Now I’m back in my yard at the big house we used to live in, playing Molly Tag again. Hopefully I can cut her off from behind the hedges this time. Hopefully.
“Those 33 yards may seem like a lot, but not when you’re coming out of a turn at forty miles an hour on skis.”
Bombing Run Will Keve The things we do for fun are sometimes pointless. Sometimes they’re dangerous. Sometimes they’re priceless. Standing at 14,000 feet looking down a 52 degree slope of 4 foot powder wells covering ice sheets, I wonder if I would even survive a fall. I click on the emergency radio, double check the avalanche routes, and set OK GO way too loud on my iPod. Flight is essential, and I can’t just stand here freezing to death. I wouldn’t even freeze, if I take too much time here a wind gust could blow me right off the summit. You just have to force yourself to do it, since that 52 degree slope looks about 80 when you’re standing at the top. I look off towards the west, and I notice that the border of Oklahoma and Colorado can actually be seen along the panhandle the same way it is on a map. Launch. As I take the first turn I center my weight too high, and I start to slide. The skid only lasts about 5 feet so I recover into my next run. This consists of bombing straight down the cliff for about forty feet. An open wind tunnel in Antarctica blasts me so hard that if my coat were open, I would have been airborne, and I would never come back. The second turn is a quad burner, since I found the one patch of corn snow on the entire slope. I manage that well, but the transition back into powder is a different
beast. My tips actually break the plane which forces me to lean forwards or risk falling on the next icy spot. Unfortunately, this accelerates me to a speed that I can’t totally control. By the time I’m back under sixty, a quick head spin reveals three things. One, there are no avalanches. Two, I’m about halfway down the first bowl. Three, my parents are stopped and waiting about in about 100 feet. Those 33 yards may seem like a lot, but not when you’re coming out of a turn at forty miles an hour. I finish the last run after turn six and slam on my edges so hard that the split distance can’t be more than four feet. I popped the couple in front of me with three feet of aerial powder, but they laugh it off, and we move on to the next trail. I glance down towards the buzzing yellow gadget on my waists. It beeps with my top speed. 74, faster than a car on the interstate, and a new personal best. Just as “Do what you want” is reaching the last verse I pop out my ear buds, zip closed my shoulder pocket, and jump into a glade with the rest of my family. Skiing gives you a rush, just like anything else. Sometimes though, it’s more than just what we do for fun. Sometimes it’s that bombing run, that electrical storm of adrenaline that is the only thing separating you from broken limbs and hospital bills. For me anyways, there’s nothing but the wind and the sheer terror of flight. Sometimes that’s all you need.
Opportunity in Friendship Will Keve It’s funny the way we describe friends. We say that they are “our friends” or “my friend”, as if we own them. The possessive language we use around friendship makes it sound more like slavery then the positive relationship that friendship is. It makes people think about the whole concept of enjoying the concept of others company in a very strange way. It allows people to quantify friendship. Facebook is the overused example here, but really just the idea that friendship can determine things like opportunity and social status never really makes sense. My friends are the people who I want to be around in my free time, mixed in with the group of kids who I am thrown in with due to circumstances. I met my best friend through school (sort of) like the majority of people do, but it’s interesting to think about how that relationship would be impacted if ,say, you weren’t in class the day that you met that person. What if you hadn’t gotten on the same bus ride with the person you end up marrying twenty years later? Opportunity is like a roller coaster; its crazy ups and downs can reverse friendship and hatred on a dime. That said, it doesn’t dilute your friends just because you might not have been friends if circumstances had been just slightly different. The fact is that if you are good friends with someone it is because at some point, you made an effort to go and make their acquaintance. This takes many forms,
whether it’s introducing yourself, sitting at that kids table during lunch, or playing on a sports team with them. Even though it’s never really possible to tell how much of a relationship is based on sociability and how much it is based on circumstance, there is a big difference between the two. If you can go and talk to that person about absolutely nothing, and break out laughing, not about the subject, but just about some extra-conversational detail then you know that that person is really a friend. You know if you can invite that person over to your house and still have a great time, even though you didn’t really do anything. So really, when you think about it, a friend isn’t just the person you meet on a street corner and strike up a conversation with. Friendship is about a lot more than that. Friends are the people who have each other’s back, and who more than anything else, feel for each other, and will want the other to succeed because of it.
What Guns n’ Roses did for me Will Keve “Hey kids!” the voice called out, “Yeah?” “Who’s your favorite Rock n Roll band?” How should I know? I don’t listen to loud music. This guy is making a lot of assumptions about us. I’m nine years old for goodness sakes! How can I be expected to make these decisions? This could be a big deal if I say the wrong answer, and who listens to rock n roll anyway? The lethal silence of the gymnasium was even creepier than the possibly pedophilic volunteer basketball coach. I mean really, who gives up there time to teach nine year olds basketball, and even if you wanted to do that, why on earth would you wear shorts that short? I didn’t really like this guy, and I really was afraid of him, but I did think of a rock n roll band. “Guns n Roses!” I announced gleefully. Coincidence, that was his favorite too. It turned out to be the entire gyms’. I enjoyed that basketball camp, and I still have some great memories of the friends I made and the baskets I hit. Everything I did there was probably eclipsed by the significance of what I did when I got home. I looked up Guns n Roses on the internet. When I actually heard their music I would never quite be the same. That gym teacher may have been a weirdo, but he had great taste in 80’s hard rock groups. When I bought their hit album “Appetite for Destruction” for my Walkman later that week, my identity would never quite be the same. Soon I started listening to the whole spectrum. Everything from Nirvana to Led Zeppelin, The Beatles to Johnny Cash, Aerosmith, Boston and all the rest found its way
onto my shelf. Now with all those CD’s sitting around totally useless, they make great ornaments sitting on my dresser. Due to this, I never really got into rap, hip-hop, or any of the pointless Disney channel pop stars that make up pop music. It’s pretty ironic that as Rage Against the Machine’s lyrics of not conforming flow into my ears, the whole thing was indirectly started to impress some creepy basketball coach. Guns n Roses isn’t still my favorite band, in fact I barely listen to them anymore, but no band has shaped me in the same way. The might have been the definition of drugs, sex, and rock n’ roll, but really there’s nothing more appropriate than an eight year old rocking out to Slash and Axel late into the night. At least I didn’t grow up in the eighties though, and then I would probably be a creepy gym teacher. Kids today don’t have to worry about that sort of thing today though, since pop music won’t really hold on in a few decades. With a few exceptions, no one will be listening to Lady Gaga and the Foo Fighters on LP’s in 30 years. I’ll still be have Dark Side of the Moon though, and that’s what will really leave an impact. I wouldn’t be the same without GNR. It’s made it more difficult at times to relate with some kids who refuse to listen to the music I like, but I wouldn’t remain ignorant no matter how much bliss it might have given. I’ll keep my Rock n Roll, and it won’t ever disappoint. If you still can’t comprehend this, just look up the music video for “My Michelle” by Guns N Roses. It can speak more words than I can.
Ray Allen, Sunsets, and the kids in the distance. Will Keve The human graffiti outlines are like forensic crime scenes drawn by 4th graders. The homeless guy smoking a cigar on the bench really creeps me out, but I know that if he ever tried anything he’s way too slow to catch me. The sun is setting on the tree line and shadows are starting to engulf the court. I haven’t hit 200 yet though, so I will myself to stay even as shivers start to crawl up my legs. Dribble in, pivot step, fade away from the elbow. Crossover, behind the back, left hand lay-up. Three foul shots. As I pass two fifty I’m really starting to get cold, and I see some annoying middle school kids coming to bother me about why I practice here. I need to hit fifty buckets in about two minutes if I don’t want to endure their wrath, and achieve my ultimatum. They wonder closer, and I sink a three pointer. I’m even a bit surprised myself at how good that looked, but they are just staring jaws dropping. Even though these are little kids I don’t know, I imagine them as a roaring crowd at TD garden. All of a sudden it’s Celtics v Lakers and Ray Allen is knocking down his signature far corner three pointers like its game 4 of the 2008 NBA finals. I take another three which falls right off the board and in. Sometimes, when I’m in my groove I really do look like Ray, just without the goofy headband and long socks. I sink my next four inside baskets. Even for my best days I am on fire now.
187! 191! 196! 199! There’s just one basket to hit before I go in for the night. My arms are exhausted, my shirt drenched like I just got off of splash mountain at Disney World. The crowd is silent as the grave and my mind is set on hitting the shot I never can, Ray Allens Pocket Corner 3. The shot is impossible to defend since there is no room between the 3 point arch and the edge of the court, but it is the lowest percentage shot in basketball. Unless you’re Ray Allen; who shoots it at 52%. I take it in from the top of the key and go through my legs twice for show. With a fake jab to the left and then an in-n-out I’m bolting to the right edge of the court, eyes only on the rim and the roaring crowd. My form is flawless and I get the release just right, the ball is spinning slowly backwards as it fly’s through the air with almost no arc, like a bullet fired from a musket destined for the heart. Air-ball. The crowd goes from wowed to hysterical in a matter of seconds, but it doesn’t matter. I pick up the ball, hit a foul shot and walk home. “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” couldn’t be more appropriate as I shuffle through my iPod, but really, today was a dream come true. I might not ever be Ray Allen. I might not ever play at TD garden, but one day I will hit His Shot. When I do, the crowd really will go wild; the crowd in my mind that is. I walk off into the sunset, a silhouette holding a basketball under his arm. The only difference between it and Ray Allen is a head of hair and a few inches. Maybe Ray Allen is walking into the sunset. Either way, it’s tough to tell now.
The Journey Will Keve
“Hey! Hey guys! There’s someone outside!” “Shut up!” “No really, wake up and come outside right now!”
As I lumber out of my bed fully ready to punch out whoever says the next word, I see the seven other boys sharing my cabin walk like zombies out of the broken screen door. Not sure whether or not this is a dream, I throw on a hoodie to fight off the mosquitos, and I wander out to the front steps. From there the horde of boys is still walking away from me towards the center of the village commons area. In the distance I can see a man holding an enormous flaming torch illuminating the surrounding picnic tables and bathrooms. I run with my moccasins clacking behind me trying to catch up with the horde advancing towards the flaming man. Upon closer inspection the man with the torch is longtime friend and counselor Jeff, whose 10 inch afro looks like it was signed when he held the torch just a bit too low. Assuming I must be dreaming, I follow Jeff and the other boys down the long hill
towards camp in complete silence. If I trip on the many wayward stones embedded in the ground, I will be not only an embarrassment, but also I would likely be sent home and would never see the end of this midnight journey. My moccasins are moving like jungle cats now, deftly maneuvering the tricky slopes by only candlelight. Finally the hill bottoms out, which means that we are at the camp entrance. I have been to this place hundreds of times, but at night at the rickety gate sings as gently as Simon and Garfunkel. Tree frogs and crickets are chirping the melodies and the tide smashing the beach forms the baseline. Then the beat drops when Jeff finally interjects, “follow me now to the water at night, where we make our first stop.” The silence may be ruined, but as others mumble about possibilities, and where the journey will take us, I cannot speak. The glowing reflection of the moon against the water stifles me. The baseline is as strong as ever now, crashing violently in with the sea breeze. Standing in this mystical queue along the waterfront, with mosquitos nipping at my ankles, I can’t help but feel that I have been here before. After minutes have passed there we cannot help but move to shield our eyes from the beauty of the sea. Our exodus continues along the soccer fields and passed the tennis courts, until we reached the village of the youngest children in the camp. “For our second stop, we must be silent;” Jeff whispered “for the children are sleeping.” While others do not understand why we are stopped here, it hits me like a freight train. This cabin was where we started our real journey. The cabins we looked at now were the homes that we had used in our very first summers here. This was the beginning of our journey, this was what started the ball rolling, and what convinced us to come back year, after year, after year. The cabin was named “St. Lawrence”, the mighty Canadian river that fed Lake Champlain. “And now our journey must be concluded;” Jeff whispered, “follow me through the woods.” This began the longest section of the trek. Still in my flimsy moccasins, I navigated through dense woods. Bits of flora brushed by my jeans, but I continued on. There would be no stopping the
single file convoy of boys marching on this wooded path. We traversed the forest for what felt like hours, but really it was only minutes. My vision was getting fuzzier by the moment, and I was confident I would wake up soon. This strange world was getting stranger as I could hear George Harrison soloing “As my Guitar Gently Weeps” in the distance. George’s melodies became more succinct as I advanced, and now Ringo was bashing cymbals, and Paul was strumming along on a bass guitar that he probably didn’t want to play. Finally John came in on the chorus and the fab four were slowly bringing me to tears. Finally the path wound its way to an end, and I noticed that Jeff as well as several other counselors were squatting around an old Native American camp site tending a massive fire. Jeff clicked off the boom box and The Beatles left us as subtly as they had appeared. I spent the next fifteen minutes discussing my time at camp with my fellow campers, counselors, and friends. That discussion did bring joy to me as I looked back along my time as a camper at Camp Abnaki, but I now can’t remember a word that I said. The rest of that night I was in a trance thinking about what we’d done. Only one word would fit, and it couldn’t be spoken until we were all back in bed. Lying in my sheets, with friends all around me, with nothing around but the wind, I think I said it but really it could have been any or all of us. “Sweet.”