Monday, October 27, 2014


For Lara, who has taught me so much about the wheel and for Sharleen, who is that determined kid who will get it.

Round and round, death defying pace, toes scraping trenches into hardscrabble earth, someone jumps off and grabs the rust-flecked metal and starts running again, propelling the welded frame around its axis faster and faster. Sweaty, grubby hands just barely hanging on in the Oklahoma heat. Older kids with wide open faces, laughing and smiling. Younger kids clinging with terror in their eyes, trying to be cool. Flicker of kid and kid and kid and kid and kid and that open seat you are aiming for --missed it-- and kid and kid and kid and kid and--jump to it, bump off, land on your ass in the dirt as your friends howl and another kid pops off to pump the merry-go-round faster and faster. Determined, you pace it again ---kid, kid, kid, kid, kid-- bam! lucky enough to get the seat next to the frame so you can pull your skinny self up and onto the smooth-worn wood and lean out and away into the abyss of flying. 

You are not a brave kid, nor have you ever been, but you feel compelled by the sense of freedom that you believe you'll experience when you are on, through the false starts and times you've had to dart back from flinging legs and uneven ground, muster courage, learn about the pace and the rhythm and the movement before stepping back in, running alongside, hoisting yourself on with whatever strength you have, hoping that you can catch the ride before it starts up again at maximum speed. 

Years later when this metaphor comes back to you in the 5am scratching of pen on paper, you wonder what it meant to you to try, to keep at it, to land on the hardpack ground a few times, to risk. Did you even think about it? Probably not. More likely it was the possibility of movement and sound, your vestibular system afire with sensation, the action not singular but communal, your body used to meeting the dirt and the ground with so much more frequency than you would know in your adult years. And a shorter distance to fall. And less jarring.

So it's there again, that seat that flickers in front of you, the one that you know you have moments to seize before it's taken by another. Think not of the smell of metal on your skin and the ache of your wrists from leaning too far forward. Think instead of the hot wind on your face, the thrill in your stomach as you lean into space, of the excited shrieks of the people around you, of flying, of freedom, of joy and the the reward of having taken that leap.

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