Loyalty. Spit brothers. Potions. Keep out signs. Owl pellets. Everything under the porch. Our tree house: a piece of paper warning non-members taped to a muddy plunger not to walk up the tiny strip of dirt next to the ivy bed that led up to the corner behind the tree. It was screaming as the news of the twister about to hit came up on the computer even while the velociraptors were trying to pry the door handle out of our hands. Making double layered, extra frosted mud cakes. Fighting over who got to be kidnapped next. Changing the password every few minutes. It was the Titans performing “One More Chance” and “Here Come the Titans” at the fourth of July barbecue. It was picking at scabs to get cool scars. Comparing them like battle wounds. Scraping the white stuff off with your teeth first, then nibbling on the chocolate cookies. Fishing chips‘a’hoy! mush out from the bottom of your milk. Letting the full foot hang from your mouth as you played tag, devouring it an inch at a time.

It was Rugrats and Recess. Blanket forts. Leaving a trail of kibble to the garage when grandma’s dogs were over. Knowing that the knots at the base of redwood trees were actually doorways to the trolls’ hideouts and that flicker of shadow in the corner of your eye was you just missing a glimpse of a fairy. It was finding dinosaur bones all over the house and painstakingly putting them back together.

Screaming because everyone made you think your hair was on fire when actually one strand was smoking softly. Hiding out at the back window, watching the gardeners trample all through the ivy house while they laughed at the sign. Jumping from bed to bed to keep out of the lava. Dying dramatically for ten minutes. Having telekinesis in our sleep. Explaining a previous existence of being a salt lake hot spring spirit.

It was what are we doing tomorrow Brain? Waking up Saturday morning and opening the craft book. Sock puppets. Homemade potpourri. Code names. Blowing on grass till they yell at you to cut it out. Turning the park water fountain into a river. Laughing at kids who thought they were the first to work on it. Trying to eat wild walnuts and chewing on sour grass. Collecting roly-polies. Secret agent missions to the pantry after bedtime. The cousins, mice for the day, hiding from all the adults who had recently become cats.  Rescuing baby squirrels and blue jays. It was ‘tend you said’ and ‘ring-a-ring-ring, ring-a-ring-ring, phone call, phone call’. Pleading for quarters until acquiring every tattoo at pizza hut, while trying to get that one. Rocks that were worn away arrow heads or had fossils in them if you looked hard enough.

It was life turning into a musical. It was movie moments. Conspiring in the backyard. It was stand by me in the sandlot with the Goonies. Knowing they’d have your back no matter the circumstances or consequences. It was a new club every week with a new frontier. It was written in permanent blue house paint on the dog run of the rental house.