When I was 10 years old and living in Ft. Stewart, GA my neighbors had a trampoline. It was the first one I ever jumped on outside of gymnastics classes. It was the coolest thing happening on our street, that’s for sure. I learned (the hard way) front flips and back flips and handsprings. Back then trampolines weren’t sold with those nifty net enclosures.
We did some really dumb and unsafe things on that trampoline. We would jump out of trees onto it. We would push it up against the house and climb on the roof to jump off. If we were feeling really stupid and irresponsible and no adults were around we’d put a sprinkler under said trampoline that was parked near the roof. The water made the canvas extra bouncy and slick. All the things you want when kids are leaping off of houses on to it.
The time came when our family had to move away. I knew I would not survive the trauma of adolescence without a trampoline of my very own. I also knew there was no way my parents would buy me one. However, it is hard to deny a child who is willing to pay for something with their own money. A few short weeks after arriving in the middle of the scorching summer to Ft. Hood, TX off we went to Sam’s Club for me to fork over all the cash I had squirreled away.
I had my trampoline for only a few years. Basically, for all of middle school. I went to 3 different schools in 3 different cities, in 2 different countries. My parents’ marriage cracked open that year in Texas. Nevertheless, my family would stay intact and make the move to Mons, Belgium. The trampoline came with us.
My parents had one very simple rule about the trampoline:
No jumping without an adult home.
My sister is almost 5 years older than me and was often left “in charge” of us. On occasion, this would mean Trish & I would have full run of the house (and trampoline, naturally) for the weekend while they traveled out of town. Within the first 24 hours they were gone we managed to break a girl’s ankle ON BOTH SIDES jumping on that trampoline. And as if that weren’t enough, we thought it’d be fun to jump some more around 2 or 3am. Someone double bounces Tony who goes head first off the trampoline and cracks his head open. Tony then proceeds to walk all through our house holding his bleeding head and then holding onto the walls, effectively making our hallway look like a crime scene! He ended up with stitches. Kathy ended up with a cast and crutches. Trish and I ended up with a LOT of explaining to do.
I had sleep overs on that trampoline. I learned spin the bottle on that trampoline. I made up choreography and routines to songs like Motown Philly on that trampoline. I worked out all my tweenage angst on that trampoline. And I had a lot.
My trampoline became my sanctuary. It was my favorite place to be. Ironically given what a reckless daredevil I could be on it, to me it was the safest place I could think of.
We moved from Belgium to Atlanta, GA in the middle of 8th grade. After finishing the school year out my parents 23 year marriage came to an end. My mom, sister and I moved 90 miles south to Columbus, GA. There we’d get an apartment and the trampoline wouldn’t be able to come with me. It stayed at my dad’s house and every other weekend when we would go visit, I’d spend as much time out there as I could.
On my trampoline I was free and adventurous. I pushed myself to try things I couldn’t yet do. I laughed, cried, slept, tanned, ate, danced, and daydreamed on that black canvas.
Last summer Nathan and I worked feverishly during naptime to put together our daughters’ first trampoline. Before he could get the enclosure around it I hopped on.
Let me tell you, that trampoline feels a lot smaller and a lot more dangerous to me than it did twenty years ago. Then again, so does life.
I am not the girl on the trampoline that I use to be. At least it’s not all that I am anymore. A lot of life has happened between then and now. But every now and again I find my way down the hill in the backyard and climb back into my childhood sanctuary to find the wonder and to remember those parts of me I should never let myself outgrow.