The closest thing to flying started early.
I remember the trees being topped, so much taller than the house, swaying with the weight of the bravecrazy man armed with a chainsaw and confidence in physics. I remember the large rounds that lay about the yard, smooth yet prickly where the bark had broken off.
I went away for the summer, and when I returned there was a swing. Approximately 20 feet up, between two shortened trees, a cross spar had been secured with railroad spikes, flush with the wood, their rust colour blending seamlessly. A rope, probably only an inch or so around, but certainly the thickest rope I’d seen to that point, anchored to the beam and and looped through a piece of wood covered in carpet.
From there it was only a matter of time before I put all those fir rounds to use. A first layer came easily enough. Tilted onto their side and rolled into place, these pieces of summer snowmen. The second layer was a little more finicky, and I made sure to stagger the pieces, to displace their weight as though I was building a pyramid. The third layer came together and there was even space for one last round on top.
Armed with only fearlessness, and an back of my mind desire that one day I might like to be a trapeze artist, I grabbed one side of the rope and climbed to the top of the stack, pulling the swing with me. One foot in the centre of the wood, one on the board seat of the swing, all I had to do was step up and I flew.
I had the sense to build the pyramid far back enough to avoid hitting it when I played that game where one holds the ropes and allows the body to go slack, folded in a bridge pose, head and feet near touching under the seat, as heavy and part of the movement as is possible, to feel completely at the whim of motion.
Other times I would stand on the board, bare toes curled around the front edge, knees bending with the back and forth in an attempt to go higher, and higher still. And just when I thought I couldn’t get any higher, faster, further, I’d grip the ropes tight and jump, the swing dropping away from my feet even as I followed through on the forward motion. Propelling myself up, feet tucking themselves around the rope to find purchase, and then I would just let go, swinging upside down, only a half loop around my ankles keeping me from crashing into the surrounding forest.
It never even occurred to me that it was dangerous.