I drove to Port Huron for an afternoon last year for the sole purpose of hoping to catch a glimpse of some freighters. I was on the phone with a close friend, and as soon as freighter appeared in my line of sight, I politely apologized and asked if we could please end the call now so that I could enjoy the freighter.
Okay, it was more like I yelled, “OH MY GOD, THERE IS A FREIGHTER, I GOTTA GO,” and then hung up.
Numerous family vacations to Sault Ste. Marie when I was a kid fostered a deep love of freighters, which I clearly still have to this day. I would marvel over how something so huge could just glide so easily across the water. As an educated adult, I know about density and water displacement and all of that intelligent junk, but it still seems pretty magical.
My family has watched countless freighter passings together, mainly during our family vacations to Sault Ste. Marie. One summer when on such a trip when I was about 3 or 4 years old, my older sister and I stood with our parents on the shore of the St. Mary’s River and watched a freighter go by. One of my parents was likely taking pictures, and we may have even had a pair of binoculars.
Binoculars would have been superfluous though, as the freighter wasn’t that far away. In fact, I remember being absolutely mesmerized by just how close the freighter seemed. I’m not sure if this is a charming display of the sweet naivete of child or just an example of a kid being stupid, but I then announced my great idea:
“I’m gonna go touch the freighter.”
As an adult, I realize that’s impossible. But as a clueless kid, I felt like this was a perfectly fine choice to make. Genius, in fact. The freighter is RIGHT THERE, why not take advantage and run right up to it? Well, this is why:
The freighter that was so super close in my mind was in reality several hundred feet away.
That means the water is really deep.
I can’t swim.
Even if I could swim, refer back to numbers 1 and 2.
So, stupid but determined (a bad combination), I went charging forward. I ran across the shore, and my feet hit the water. My dad was right behind me though, and I didn’t get very far. He got a death grip on one of my arms and yanked back with all of his might.
The good news was that my dad has saved me from potential death. The bad news was that in doing so, my dad dislocated my elbow. Basically all I remember from that point is that I was screaming and crying for a really long time, and I didn’t stop until sometime when we were at the hospital. I also remember that my older sister kept hissing at me to stop crying and was bemoaning my idiocy.
She pretty much kept that up for the rest of our childhood.
So although this story is mainly a stupid kid moment, it also makes me happy to think about a time in my life when I felt such pure joy and that anything was attainable. There were no obstacles, there was no over-thinking. If you saw something that excited you, you just went for it. Kids like me had the pleasure of not having the weight of the world on their shoulders yet. Life didn’t seem overwhelming or intimidating, it just presented endless opportunities and chances for memories to be made.
Kids also aren’t responsible for paying their own hospital bills, so that probably aids their ambition.