I grew up in a community named Ches-Mar, in Severn, MD. Ches-Mar was working class, but suburban; Cookie Cutter, but unique; tacky but comforting. In reality, from what my mom tells me, life in Ches-Mar could have easily been a Desperate Housewives script 40 years ago. When I think about my life in this community as a young boy I hardly remember playing inside, unless it was raining. My most prominent memories are playing baseball in the circle or my side yard, or riding skateboards (old school 70’s boards) down the hill.
One of my fondest memories of life in this neighborhood probably occurred in the late 70’s. My friend Kurt, and his family, had been away on vacation for what seemed an eternity. I’m sure now that he had been gone a full week. At any rate I knew the day he was returning home, and eagerly looked outside my bedroom window all day waiting to see their camper return to the street marking their return. After what seemed like eternity their camper arrived. I remember Mr. Charlie pulling the camper around the circle preparing to back it into their driveway, which was directly across the street from us. Before the camper started backwards into the driveway a door opened and Kurt got out of the truck and started toward my house, I was already outside. Kurt, in a highly excited voice said “Nels, I have something for you”, he then handed me a small can marked “rattle snake eggs” or something similar. As I took the can from Kurt it exploded with a long snake, the kind that jump out of cans as a joke.
I saw Kurt today for the first time in probably 25 years. Our lives have been vastly different since we both moved from Ches-Mar. Both of us have been handed challenges, which at least for me have shook us to our core, but we both seem to have overcome with resonating success. However, our conversation was a bit timid, we merely covered the basics like where we worked, what our kids were involved with, where we lived. Somewhere tucked inside that conversation though there are two 8 year old kids using tennis rackets at guitars listening to Kiss records who eagerly shared the early years of Saturday Night Live (Joe Piscopo era) together. Thinking all along that we should have been watching something else or already in bed, but at the same time thinking it was as funny as hell, and wondering what they would come up with next.