As soon as my son made it out to the ledge, each of his toes a slug crawling to the edge, two local boys appeared out of thin air, egging him on from the bank. “Don’t think about it! It’s a mind game. Once you do it, you’ll want to do it again.” They looked up and waited, squinting their eyes from the sun setting behind the hill, mouths wide open. My son looked down at me. He asked me, without words, with just a look, for the ok. I nodded.
Every man knows the electrocution of freefall from their first jump. And the glory of the plunge, when you surface, lifted up in what feels like a suit of bubbles, a fear overcome. I sincerely believe every boy begins manhood the first time he works up the nerve to jump, whatever that “jump” might be. Indeed. It is a mind game. Another Texan boy jumped off the rock wall of Devil’s Waterhole at Inks Lake State Park yesterday.
It was a good day.
We climbed over the rock and looked down into the cove near sunset. The rockface on the other side looked like a Navajo blanket with its patterns set in the rock, with colors of fluorescent jade and salmon pink. I stepped, and a glacier-blue lizard froze, only to disappear under an orange rock. I thought to myself, “This cove is straight out of Dr. Suess,” with its tufts of grass growing out of cracks in the rock. I crouched down to get a better look. The rock was dappled with lichens of cinnamon and turquoise. Like pastel chalk. We climbed down to the water’s edge and I threw my son’s yellow Crocs like banana peels onto the water to see if they would float. (They did.)
We sat and watched our son swim on his back without a care in the world, as he looked up to the blushing, lavender sky, the clouds floating around themselves, like snow angels, above us.
My boy pointed up. Vultures flew over us in circles, hoping we would die. But we just kept on livin’. It was getting dark so I told my son it was time to go. We still had to drive. He dried off and we left the park, but stopped at the overlook on Park Road 4. We took a few pictures and I put on my helmet and gloves, knowing I had a bumpy ride ahead. We headed back home to Austin, and I anxiously watched for deer dying to cross Hwy 29 in front of me, and semi trucks in my rearview, lurching to pass.