When I was growing up we lived a short distance from Dutch Lake and one of our friends had a raft on the lake that was basically open for anyone to use. This was in simpler times obviously: no worries about insurance or someone getting sued. No need for permission slips or parental waivers. Just a raft out in the lake for kids to enjoy.
We used to spend hours on that raft, which was probably in water 12-15 feet deep. We'd play king of the raft, throw footballs off the raft and try to catch them before you hit the water, etc. There was a little welcome and unwelcome groping of the opposite sex under the raft from time to time too. All-in-all good old fashioned teenage summertime fun.
I remember a particularly fun afternoon on the raft one late summer afternoon only a couple of days before I was off to college for the first time. We'd been on the lake for a few hours and a couple of us were just hanging on the raft soaking up the sun. I was thinking that that moment was probably the last time I would be able to be so carefree with little to worry about, no responsibilities. Soon I would be at college, school, jobs all beckoned. Who knows what happens after that: a career, family, bills. It wasn't like I wanted to cling to that moment forever and delay my foray into the future, and it wasn't like "bring it on, let's see what's next!" It was more just an acknowledgement that a threshold loomed and that I was soon crossing over into someplace new, without the ability to really come back.
I was right, a threshold soon had been crossed. If I ever went back to that raft the following summers I don't remember it and I am sure it was only 1 or 2 other times if I had. Summer jobs, school, new friends, punk rock, a general disdain for "childish" activities kept me away from the raft. But I still remember that day even 28 years later and I tell myself that if you think about it, we aren't really headed for any particular destination, that we get some ultimate place and then it's all over. Actually we are on a journey. With many thresholds to cross and how and when you cross them depends on a hundred little things. I think back to that day and sometime wish everything was so carefree as it was soaking up the sun on that raft but realize that it can't be. I also look back and am glad I was able to move on, have thousands of new experiences - even the sad and painful ones - and await what's next.