Sometimes I wonder if I still have a concussion from when I fell at the playground. There was that super steep hill that I kept roller skating down, tucked like an Olympic skier. As I approached, I’d stretch and grab the pull up bar at the edge of the jungle gym, whipping up in the air so fast that my skates almost flipped me clear over the bar. Trudge up the hill, fly down, trudge, fly, over and over, taking in the rush, accomplishing this great feat and getting nearly as high from the adrenaline as mom did from speed.
I mastered this movement. I spent weeks working on my form. I thought that if I went fast enough, I could get a full revolution around that bar. My biggest concern was kicking myself in the face with that big rubber stop bulging out of the toe of my skate. I always saw it coming at me, and then my momentum would reverse and my feet would fall back towards Earth. I knew it was my fear that stopped me from going all the way so I tried to advance myself, “Don’t be afraid! It will be worth it!”
After many failures to complete this challenge, I lost my chance to see if I’d kick my own teeth out. The last time down the hill, I reached for the bar that practically had my fingerprints embedded into it, and slapped it. Slapped! My grab didn’t hold, but making contact with my fingertips for that nanosecond was enough to throw me flat on my back, thrusting my skull against the ground. I was almost certain that my head had actually gone through the ground, took a glimpse at China, propelled back towards my neck, and rapidly resealed the ground with all that inertia.
I managed a zombie styled walk/skate home, sobbing and throbbing, until I passed some jerks who started making fun of me for crying. I straightened up and pretended I was suddenly fine. It was dizzying trying to contain all the swirling in my bruised head but I was used to toughing it out. None of those brats knew what I was going through, all alone, less than a decade old, the only responsible person in my household. I had to be strong or perish, survival of the fittest.