I followed my sister down my hill. No way is she going to beat me to the bottom. She can be the smallest, the cutest, the most innocent. I am the biggest, the first, the King of the Hill.
Mom braids her hair like Laura from Little House on the Prairie. Two banners of blond hair flap from under her helmet. She tucks over her bars like Super Girl, low to the frame, small and slippery in the rushing air. I am elbows and knees flapping in the wind. A gorilla falling downhill.
She makes it to the bottom first. She has no fear, does not brake before hitting the gravel at the bottom. She is triumphant. She loses control. I lose my jealousy. I become scared. She stands, blood rushing from her mouth. I scoop her up, cary her home, tell her she is King of the Hill now.
I live for small victories. Small victories always feel the biggest. Today my son ran to me smiling, “Gonna go poop!” I scoop him up, dash up the stairs to his bathroom, tug down his pants and diaper, plop him on his training toilet and wait. There is singing, talk of candy, more singing, talk of cows and Star Wars, a grunt, a moment of quiet concentration, back to cows and Galaxies Far Far Away. False alarm. No problem. We stand, he pulls up his pants and diaper. I am walking out when I notice he is looking down in the toilet, eyes big. “Poops in der!” I look over his shoulder, see that his claim is true. We dance like mad men, dazed with the joy of the first poop that did not take place in his pants. Small victories feel huge. Now to teach him how to wipe.
A boy jumped off this trestle when my older sister was in high school—that feels like ancient history—his girlfriend dumped him while they sat up here drinking beers and smoking cigarettes. I look at my friend. He loves telling this story. I look at the beer and cigarette in my hand. We are sitting on a little platform that sticks out from the main timbers of the trestle. I always feel like I am perching at the edge of death when I sit up here, feet dangling, pitching empty bottles into the muddy water below, watching the highway traffic criss crossing the landscape in the distance. My friend says we will have to jump if a train comes along. I think I will let him jump, I’ll just beg the train for mercy.