I am poised for the greatest achievement of my life. It, of course, will be followed by many more. I will probably be a quarterback (even though I’m getting a late start, because I’m not tall enough for the team yet), or a judo instructor, or at least a scientist who cures cancers and invents the hoverboard, but for real. But those are for later. Those are for when I am living in California in a big house all by myself, watching brush fires from my swimming pool (I saw it on Discovery because I thought it was Shark Week, and even though it wasn’t, it was still cool).
Now, I am getting ready. I am preparing myself with great calm. This takes patience (which apparently I’m not very good at, says Mom and Mrs. Thomacelli, and EVERYONE), this takes stillness (something else I’m not very good at). I had to do a lot to get here. First, I had to make sure the way was clear, like runways at airports. One time, when we were flying to this beach in Mexico, we had to wait in the plane for two extra hours because there was a deer on the runway. We got there really late but that was actually more fun. The streets were noisy and crowded, the air was dark and blurry, but I didn’t even need to hold anyone’s hand. We ate churros on the way to the hotel, and I got cinnamon all over my shirt. I’m planning on going back very soon, maybe even next week, if this all works out.
After I made a clear path, I had to climb up into the fort. It’s not really hard – there are stairs and everything – but I had to get a really good spot. That means getting on top of the rails, and that is a lot harder. I wore my good sneakers on purpose. They’re new, probably cooler than anyone else’s, even if they don’t have lights in them. They got me here, so when I’m famous, I’ll definitely endorse Nike. I’ll even be in their commercials for free, as long as I get new shoes every year.
Now, I am standing here, on top of the railing, taking deep breaths. I know about bone density (Mrs. Thomacelli made us color pictures of the insides of birds in science), but I think that my bones aren’t too dense yet. After all, I’m not allowed on most roller coasters, so they’re probably not fully developed. Besides, I made a parachute, just in case. That’s safety.
I take a breath. I let it out, just like in judo. I brush the band-aids on my knees, remembering the last time, remembering the woodchips in my mouth and the Tootsie Pop I got in the office. This time, I won’t need them.
I take a breath. I let it out, making sure to focus all my energy, just like mom does in yoga. I flex my toes, tight in my new sneakers. Maybe Nike will make shoes with little wings on the sides, and my name will be all over the laces.
You know, people keep telling me I’m too old for this, and that come on Ray, you should know better by now. But I think that the reason that people say that is because they’re afraid that I’ll be able to do it. When they were little (and they had light bones) they didn’t practice hard enough and they were too scared of getting skinned knees.
I take a breath. I let it out, just like when dad told me not to be afraid when the plane took off. I forgot to bring gum, but it’s okay because ears only pop inside airplanes. He will be so proud of me, and next time, he’ll bring his video camera and we can watch it after my Saturday soccer game.
The last time, I really felt it, but only for a little bit. It was a big rush of air and my heart was bouncing up and down in my chest and then it all stopped. That’s how I know I’m getting closer. That’s how I know.
I take a deep breath. I let it out.
I take off.