This is a creek not far from my house.
We discovered it when I was 7 or 8 years old. We named it Mario Land because the large white rocks and running water reminded us of our beloved video game. And it was 1988.
My sister and I, and some of our apartment friends...only the ones deemed worthy of knowing about our magical place...would go there often. We would catch frogs and pretend we were children stranded, and once we even floated down the creek in a dog bathtub.
I remember multiple times, walking home, soaking wet and miserable. Like a soldier returning from war, half starved from being gone all day, 2 miles could have been 2000. We would talk of home and warm, dry clothes, hot food, our mothers, and we would trudge on. It was some of the best times of my childhood.
I took my younger two children there recently. There have been houses built up right next to it, so it's easily accesible by car. Which is a slap in the face to my childhood journeys, but as a parent, I also find it rather convenient.
My kids were enthralled. They found the magic immediately as only children can.
I couldn't even keep up with Damien. He was everywhere. I tried though. Because I'm a parent now. And my eyes have been opened, and I worry about who might be lurking down in the creek, I worry about drowning, I worry about poison oak, I worry. And the child in me beats the worry back with a stick, holding it hostage so my son can have a small modicum of the adventure that I did.
And Caliana. She wasn't sure what to think of this place at first. Especially after she stepped shin deep in the cold creek water.
But it didn't take long, for her ripe child imagination to take hold, and she was unstoppable. She wanted to see it all, do it all, go everywhere. She wielded a large stick as her weapon against unseen forces, and skipped her way from rock to rock, me feeling large and lame and horribly grown up following close behind.
"Take my hand mommy. Do you trust me? We have to go this way. We never leave this place again!"
And her eyes were bright with excitement and I smiled and for a moment could recapture a small bit of the adventure.
I didn't have their innocence anymore, but I could appreciate it. They didn't see the discarded beer cans or notice the small group of teenagers pass by or the smell of pot wafting through the air.
They were lost in their own world. They only saw the magic.
5 hours ago