Mud Simple

When I was a kid in the mid-eighties in a neighborhood called Indian Hills at the eastern border of Gallup, New Mexico, there were these dirt ditches. One of them was behind my house, and it was like Disneyland for kids who couldn’t go to California.

Every August at that time, we’d get a monsoon, and the eponymous hills of Indian Hills (known colloquially as the Hogbacks) would disgorge thousands of pounds of mud, which would flow down the street, mix with the ditches, and pour down our cul du sac like a river, and when the clouds parted, all that was left was a thick layer of muck.

It was glorious. My friends, Eric from a block over would join me, along with Will, who lived on the other side of the neighborhood, and Max, the coolest guy I knew, who lived at the end of our cul du sac, would join my sisters and me in this celebration of unbridled ickiness. I remember finding cat poop buried in these ditches. When we got hungry, my parents hosed us off, and we could come inside again. It was the most fun we’d have all year.

In 1986, we moved away, but two years later, we returned to rent a house identical to our previous one, only across the street. And those assholes had paved the ditches and installed drainage so that the mud was directed in an orderly fashion into what passed for the Rio Puerco, the river that was technically not there. I was twelve at the time and on the cusp of being over that kind of thing (thirty-five years later, this is decidedly not true), but I still enjoyed the majesty of those mini-mountains gifting us kids with the thing we wanted most: to become utterly disgusting.

Never again.

I know why they did it. The mudslides crippled the neighborhood every year, like clockwork. It took countless dollars to clean it up, and as Indian Hills expanded and grew more popular, that kind of thing just wasn’t acceptable in a functioning city.

But I still remember getting shoved into the muck by Max, who would get shoved in return, and shouting and being a goddamned kid, and I remember it being taken away from me, and this being my first real taste of how adults can suck the fun out of everything.


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