The first time I smelled wet dirt was when I was four. That smell may be insignificant, but the feeling that came with it wasn’t. Yes, I know what you’re thinking, a memory from when I was four? It must have been twisted somehow. But let me tell you, I remember this like it was a week ago. I was out on the playground, but not the four year olds lame, small, playground. No, this playground was the 5 year olds playground. Four-year-olds dreamed of being able to go to this playground, since we only got to go to this playground every two weeks. Now me, being very social even at a young age, I was talking to everyone in sight. Some answered with a few gurgles or shouts, while the older kids only looked down at me contemptuously and walked away. But I didn’t care. It was Thursday, the day I lived for. It was the day that I got to get away from all the kids my age, and got to be with the mature five-year-olds. At the time I was so sure that I belonged with them.
My other favorite part of Thursday was water day. Since all the teachers at my preschool were lazy and didn’t want to do more then they had to, they brought all of the pools, hoses, and kids together in the biggest playground. We put on our bathing suits, always trying to best each other in the bathrooms by who had the cars on there swimming trunks and who had the brightest, pink swimsuit. Then we would wait in line to get lathered in sunscreen. You would then grab your towels, wait for the line leader, and then we would get to go outside and have the most fun of our short lives.
Our teachers may have been lazy, but they always like to mix up our options. Some weeks it was kiddies pools with little toy boats. Other weeks they turned the sprinklers on and we got to play games like tag, which was a fun game in itself, but being able to play it out in the hot sun, in our bathing suits, while soaking wet, gave it an element of freedom. For once in our little lives we were free. So every time Thursday came around, I couldn’t wait see what was out there. I walked out, so excited to see what was there.
I saw some of the usual stuff, buckets, shovels and tubs of water, so I walked over to a big purple pool. That is when I saw it, a lone hose. This was better then the first time I walked into to Disneyland, better then the time I got to wear my Whinnie-the-Pooh overalls AND ride a pony at the same time. Why was a hose so important to me? Well usually the teachers handled these, pulling them out of your reach if you got close. So this was special. I, doing what any sensible kid would have done, walked over to the hose and picked it up. I didn’t know how to use it so I just pointed it towards the ground like I had seen the teachers do when no one was waiting to get sprayed. I guess the water pressure was set a little too high, because all of a sudden wet dirt sprayed up into my face. I screamed with laughter, because not only was I covered in wet dirt, which smelled amazing, I was filthy. The feeling of complete freedom is what keeps this memory burned in my mind. A few teachers sported me and instantly took it away from me, but I would never forget that moment, or that feeling.
The rest of that year is blurry at best; I remember dropping a large rock on my foot, being moved up to the fives room, and most of all, a hole where my dad should have been. Out of all those memories, I remember that feeling the best. It is not as magical as it used to be, but whenever I smell wet dirt I remember that memory. In that moment, I felt like it was Us against Them, and in my mind I was finally part of the Them. For once, I was free. That feeling, and that smell, will always remind me of that moment, the only moment that I felt like I understood anything.