One by one we leapt into the abyss of life. Some still haven’t reached the fresh clear water of adulthood. Many friends left a bloody mess when they jumped one too many times and never cleared the rocks at all. Many fellow jumpers in our “Crew” live only in our memories now, lost to poor planning or just plain bad luck. Some jumped well yet still never surfaced from the depths to jump again. Weighted down by injuries too heavy to carry on with, or forever anchored to the bottom by a poorly placed landing. Wasted potential, unfinished lives, stuck in the muck with one foot through a rusted out car roof.
We jumped over and over, scaling the wall again and again, leaping from the cliffs with reckless abandon, crying out with glee each time as we sailed through the air on the way down to forever. We were living in the moment, our moment. No consequences, responsibilities, or excuses. No tomorrow just today.
The “Pit” was a spring fed oasis of fresh water just a mile inland from the salty Atlantic coast where I grew up. A granite quarry long ago abandoned by the Finish immigrants who mined the stone from pits scattered around the wooded center of Cape Ann until the turn of the century. It is said that most of the hard granite stone in Philadelphia and Washington DC came from these very Quarries.
It was our swimming hole. Our secret place in the woods. A place away from rules and judgment. The quarries were a long walk down a rustic path. The trails were former mining roads, now most impassable by motorized vehicles – although some were brave or careless enough to go “woods bombing” with their junkers. This often resulted in flat tires and broken axles, but getting the kegs to the pits seemed worth it. Away from the prying eyes of cops, parents, and informers, we languished away our summer days, and partied with Cuckoo juice bonfires till the wee hours. It was more than a place for our teenage shenanigans. It was a safe place to detonate our teen angst just outside the periphery of our small village community. Imploding the last remnants of our youthful innocence together, we were letting go before moving on.