Once, in the slums of Houston when I was tiny and very young, the neighborhood kids were playing with a fun toy found by the railroad tracks. It was basically a giant “pillow”; thick material filled with air that cushioned the freight in the rail cars. Some older boys hauled it over to our apartment complex with a genius idea. The first kid in line would sit on one end of the pillow and the second kid would then run and jump on the opposite end sending the sitting duck sailing through the air.
Great waves of laughter cut through the afternoon smog and wound their way into our kitchen where I was surely baking cookies or weaving macramé with my mother. My interest was piqued, the lure of the adventure was too great, so I abandoned my activities and wandered outside to see what I was missing.
Once I saw the boisterous escapades that were unfolding without me, I immediately wanted to join the group; to be part of the fun.
“Please let me do it!” I begged to my much older brother. He got a look on his face that at the tender age of four I was unable to translate, but at the bitter hardened age of 31.5 I recognize as evil subterfuge. “Sure! Let her do it,” he agreed, as he shot a devious glance to the biggest corn-fed Texan boy that side of Mississippi. And, with that, I placed my tiny little bottom on the big stolen pillow and let my feet dangle in anticipation as that hulking corn-fed beast bounded towards me as fast as his feet would carry him.
The butterflies were big at first, as was my smile, but the rest was a blur of blue sky and rapidly approaching grass. Things went black for a split second before I saw stars and the sidewalk an inch from my face. I couldn’t breathe since the force of my land had squeezed all air out of my miniature frame.
Still, somehow I managed to find the breath to run away from the peals of howling and shrieking, mocking laughter that trailed further and further behind me. I didn’t want the adventure anymore. I wanted to be back with the cookies and macramé and Love. Just like today.