I am 10. It is the first day of summer vacation and I am riding my bike on a trail with my friends, on the way to a swimming hole we call Waterfalls. I lose my balance and fall into a fortunately-located pile of branches. On either side are significant consequential vertical drops. It is the first time I realize how close I can come to dying. A couple of years later, one of the people I’m with will haphazardly stab a closed closet door with a hunting knife, trying to further scare me as I’m already frightened inside the closet. This is the second time.
After the bike ride, my Bucky O’Hare-giving classmate, who is now my friend, joins me to walk around the city for a few hours. We stop at different people’s houses and hang out with them for a bit before moving on.
At some point around this I am at a different friend’s house, writing a co-authored story in a notebook with a racecar on the cover. We call the protagonist Speedy and make him a racecar driver. Speedy has a rival and a love interest, the latter of which is based on a girl we both have a crush on. He ends up marrying the real-life love interest. I can’t recall what happened to Speedy.
The following week I attend a week-long science camp run by more of an entrepreneur than a scientist. There are four people who quickly establish themselves as the cool kids. On the second day, one of the guys has to leave because his grandmother died, and they invite me to replace him in the group. I feel bad about feeling good about a person dying. The four of us are hanging out in a tree outside instead of completing the established task of making real ginger ale. However, we re-enter the fold to create a Rube Goldberg machine. I am enthralled by its purpose and execution, a fascination that never wanes.