Maria always wanted a bounce-house for her thirtieth birthday. With the guests ranging in age from twenty-two to sixty-five, injuries included – but were not limited to – lost fingernails, pulled groins, a broken toe, and one torn ACL which required surgery. I avoided injury by learning from the mistakes of my fellow party-goers. When it came time to fall, better to release your body and let it happen then to fight it.
My abdomen was sore for the entire week from all the bouncing I did. When you’re a kid running around, laughing and giddy until you don’t have breath left, collapsing and laughing even harder, it’s an hourly occurrence. Given the right circumstances, anyway. Even as my parents drank and smoked themselves into lives of quiet desperation, as my brother and sister hung with the neighborhood toughs doing God knows what, I remember spinning and spinning in my neighbor’s yard with two girls, getting dizzier and dizzier, laughing to my bones as the three of us hit the grass together.
I’d forgotten what that felt like, but Maria’s birthday reminded me.
I’m not sure why it makes me think of death. Maybe because it’s all rushing by so quickly, it seems a blink from one moment to the other. Maybe because at midlife, my mind continually turns to the type of life I want to live, how I’m living it now.
To wring everything from life, to give it all I have, then collapse with exhausted laughter before I even realize I’m out of energy, I think that’s a good way to go.