Nick and Zack have always played in piles of laundry and their baskets. They've surrounded themselves with vast armies of stuffed animals, close ranked and formidable. They love their wing of the camper, their little berth, a king sized bed surrounded by canvas and zippers and screens, wild and safe.
I think the best thing we've ever done for them is the bunk-beds. They have their own little space where they read and sleep and laugh and dream and talk and talk and talk. I spent a college dorm year sitting on a bottom bunk and always felt good and happy sitting there talking and talking and talking.
When Marci was pregnant with the boys my friend K was here for a while and helped me put in a large plywood and two-by-four storage unit in our unfinished basement. It's sixteen by four feet and has two shelves, one just a couple feet off the ground and another easily accessible at probably five feet. We had fun doing it, we'd shared hammer and tools many times before this, and were glad to be making noise and building. Midway through he looked at me and said, "You know, were just basically building a big playground for your twins." I had been formulating the same thought. We had a laugh and moved on, but, well, now with a renewed sense of purpose, imagining how much fun we, as boys, would have had in such a place. The large expanse of plywood - now sanded and finished nicer - seemed transformed. But, into what?
Here's the answer:
Well, actually, that's not the answer. That is one tiny maple leaf, the only red one amongst the growing bed of gold ones. It caught my eye from the house, so, on a whim, I decided to go and take a picture of it. I took two or three and turned to go in but the playset, not twenty feet away, looked, well, different. I couldn't really figure it. As I got closer, I could see that what had caught my eye was this:
Dried mud pushed into all the corners where the rails meet the outside board. You know, log-cabin style or adobe style or yurt style or mud dauber style or bird style.
I realized it all at once and every scene I mentioned above and so many more flashed in that instant memory, that past place where time seems so odd and malleable, that comes with understanding. I said the words aloud.
"A boynest." My eyes misted over and I smiled.
A safe warren in a thicket of brambles - a boynest.
A pile of familiar clothes and blankets and hopes - a boynest.
A bunk bed - top or bottom, a shelf, a sleeping bag, a blanket, a bean-bag chair, a car backseat, a dorm room, a Brooklyn loft, a baby crib... boynests all.
The sandbox of a playset, safe under a mortared, caulked and sure watchtower, weapons ready on a soft bed of pine needles, a flying disk to hunt with, and a burnt, touchingly symbolic log end there on the right.
A boynest - one of the best I've ever seen, and I've seen thousands.
From Bill's "... pictures I took of a boy with a turban fashioned from his pajama shirt which he wore for nearly an hour last night and Marci was at a meeting and I wanted to show her that putting things on your head is a genetic thing and, yes, he and his brother are "dancing like Egyptians..."
I'm pretty sure I was at this party in 1979...
I appreciate you coming around again.
(Listen, to be honest the whole "boynest" thing might not be my strongest idea ever, but, you see, memories come and are made in the damndest ways. This essay is not perfect either, in fact, none of them are. There are typos and dangled metaphors and phrases, ramblings and bumblings, unfinished and unfocused stories and, well... that's the way it has to be. I really don't have an editor or a mentor or a writing or life coach to tell me if an idea is good or bad, long or short, deep or shallow - I just kinda go with my heart. I don't really mind that. I hope you don't either.)
Peace to you and yours.