Up on the Roof


Just don’t sniff the sewer vent

On the roof it’s peaceful as can be
And there the world below can’t bother me
I probably shouldn’t have done it, but I did it. And I don’t regret it.
One fine summer day, I decided to escape my bedroom fortress and sit on the roof. I didn’t know what it would be like and I didn’t know how my parents would think, but for once I decided to engage in, what was for me, risky behavior.
I left the window open and turned up the radio. I had WHK-AM tuned in back in the day when it was Cleveland’s only country music station. Now, I wasn’t a big country fan – I was listening because Gary Dee (a local redneck talk legend) was followed by this new guy named Don Imus.
And Imus was making me double over laughing. I didn’t know it then but later he described his time in Cleveland as being spent in a cocaine haze. But the interaction between Imus and the callers was golden. It was then I thought – ‘I’d like to do that someday.’ And someday, I would.
I carefully crawled out my bedroom window and edged myself slowly out a little further, where I took this photo. It was summer 1978. I figured, this was my fire escape anyway and I might as well do a dry run. If there was a fire on the second floor, I had nowhere else to run. I could jump from the other window and fall 20 feet or so and probably break my back or worse. 
This way, I could go out on the roof and make the 10-foot jump into the pool. And, if you’re on fire, jumping into a pool is not a bad thing.
But on this fine summer day, I wasn’t thinking about a fire. I was thinking – why hadn’t I done this before? Short answer – I’ve always been afraid of heights, my parents wouldn’t want me up here, and, I thought I might damage the roof.
I had climbed a tree once when I was much younger. You can see the trunk over the fence to the middle-left. I got up but when I looked down, I froze. It caused a neighborhood spectacle. Eventually it drew my father and a crowd giving me step-by-step advice on how to get down. It was humiliating as hell. I don’t recall how I got down. But I never went up again. 
But the roof? That was different. No climbing involved. 
I had a moment up there I’ll never forget. Laughing to the radio, soaking in the sunshine, enjoying the bucolic view of the neighborhood. A cold drink, a mat, and a pair of shades and a fella could get used to this. I had a huge maple tree behind me providing shade.
My bedroom was my fortress of solitude but this was something different. In a way, it was analogous to stepping out of my comfort zone and what could be gained by doing so.
Now I can go sit in the backyard and take in nature. But there’s something about being up there – up on the roof – looking out, above it all, feeling the breeze. You can think, relax, dream. It’s kind of a special place. Most of us can’t get up on the roofs of our homes. I can’t do it where I live now because – well, it’s one level and it would look silly and I’d roast in the heat. 
If I wasn’t hammering on the roof, neighbors would probably call the cops. People just don’t go on top of their roofs for no reason.
But that afternoon, I did. I always wish I had come out at night, but I never did. 
I think about it today and wonder where my ‘roof’ might be? Where can I go to get both up and away – where the world below won’t bother me? Perhaps we all need to find a ‘roof.’ No TV, no radio, no cell phone. Just you, the sky and your own thoughts. 
Carol King had it just about right.
This entry was posted in Adventure!, feeling good, good memories, peace, When we were very young. Bookmark the permalink.

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