They paved the streets in our neighborhood the summer before I started fifth grade, and a year later found me racing down the middle of Fourth Avenue going nowhere in particular, the whir of my bike’s tires on the smooth blacktop humming a one note song. It wasn’t even six o’clock—Saturday morning—and it seemed as though I was the only person in the world. I was free! No rules, no limits, no worries and no fears.
When I sped by Mr. Hammond’s house his bulldog, Roy, came barreling around the side of the house, barking and raising holy you know what. A finger of fear raced up my spine and the short hair on my ten-year-old head seemed to tingle. I looked over my shoulder and watched as Roy slid to a stop in the gravel at the side of the road. I could no longer hear him over my laughter and the buzz of my tires, but I could see he was still barking furiously, daring me to try that again.
I zipped across Baseline Road without even a thought of traffic and a dust cloud spewed out behind me as I hit the well-worn trail we’d made through the vacant lot. We’d even piled dirt in places to make jumps where we could “get air”, and as I approached the first one, I pedaled furiously to build up speed. As I hit the small mound of packed dirt, I jerked back on my handle bars, stood up off the seat, and I flew!
Soaring through the air on that glorious Saturday morning—the first day of summer vacation—I escaped the bonds of earth, and in those few precious seconds felt a sweet freedom that was complete and real. I wished I could just keep on climbing into the sky and float among the clouds forever.