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  • Everyone wants to fly. They want to be weightless, they want to soar, they want to be free of the imprisoning ground....sky's the limit, as they say. And yet, the creator did not grant us that wish. He gave the gift of Flying to ducks and bats and macaws, among many other creatures. We, we are too heavy. Too grounded. No feathers on us, no wings. So all we can do is imagine.

    I am no different, of course. It used to be that I would fly high in my dreams, hardly feeling myself, just the joy of, well....of flying. Even in nightmares, it happened. If something was after me, some horrible monster or clown, I would just lift, lift into the air, and be safe. Soon, though, dreams alone could not satisfy my greed. I wanted to fly in this world, too. This real world. Just as much as I wanted my stuffed animals to talk. Or for me to turn into a talking tiger. Or for my favorite characters from a TV show to leap out of the screen into my arms. Or for the ability to bring things from my dreams into the waking world. Yes, I was a dreamer, I was. I always expected. Staring at my toy bunny for hours, trying to persuade it to talk; for in my mind I had an idea that all stuffed animals COULD talk, and walk, and eat, but when they were made they took an oath never to say a peep or move an inch in front of a human, ever; but for secret purposes or the safety of their kind my seven-year-old mind could not decide. I had a hunch that every time I turned my back, they would move, and whisper about me to each other; and the movie Toy Story helped pump up that belief.

    Now, back to flying. I entered a stage where I was desperate to take hand-gliding lessons. But, as they are for, Mom and Dad didn't catch on. Not until I was older, they said. Well, I wasn't about to wait THAT long to fly! So, compromising, I tried to make my own hand glider. Actually, I didnt really try. But whenever I had thinking time I would think about how to build such a device; what kind of metal was lightest, how the seat would be positioned, what kind of cloth or plastic was light enough to carry a 55-pound-kid on the wind. But that project, that dream, was never chased after. After that, though, I took up on space travel. I knew by then that people in space could float. Or fly. In thin air. And so, Astronaut became number one on my future carrier list. But then, not long after, I developed a phobia for black holes, and getting lost in the black of space, and/or somehow making a hole in my space suit and then exploding. No, space was not for me. It still isn't. I feel more comfortable down here, with the reliable physics of earth. Doesn't everyone? Anyway, It wasn't long until I learned that people in space, because of the lack of gravity, got very weak. Their bones lost their strength, and could break at the slightest pressure. Yes, after that intriguing episode of Nova, after a terrified shiver, that dream went down the toilet, too.

    That's when I tried climbing to satisfy my yearning for flight. And oh, did I climb. I climbed mountains and sand dunes, rocks and cliffs, trees and windows. I climbed fences and brick walls and cabinets. I climbed furniture, I climbed shelves. The higher the better. But a favorite of mine, the grandaddy of climbable things, was roofs. I loved roofs. Whenever I came upon someone's garage roof, I would look around quickly, checking if the coast was clear, and immediately start trying to find a way up. I never forgot the disappointment when I realized that there was no way up; that is, if I wasn't willing to break a bone or two.
    Ever since I was little, I would look up at our house's dark roof, or at least the garage roof, a grand finish to the boxy structure, and say, or think, I want to go up there. And one day, I succeeded.
    I was very proud of myself, I must admit, for figuring that one out. And even prouder for being brave enough to pursue my plan. But, I did. And I never regretted it. You see, between our garage and the neighbor's, there is a skinny, short alley. Probably about three feet in width. If you were sanding on either which roof, and you were determined, you could leap with ease. And so, scrambling up the fence that separated the two yards, and pulling myself up onto the neighbor's rather tacky, rough, and flat garage roof, I could stand facing mine, my roof, with only a three-foot-wide chasm in between to separate me from my destination.
    From my position on the roof, I was in clear view of the neighbor's bedroom window. Better be careful, and stay out of sight, I told myself, but really I had no idea of the consequences were of being seen. I mean, a little kid balancing precariously on someone else's garage roof, someone else's property....I mean, really! That is definitely worth a 911 call and a trip to court. But I didn't have a clue. I was just standing there, eying the other side, trying to work up the courage to jump. I tried several methods. One being me reaching out my leg and seeing if I could touch my foot to the other side and bridge it. Somehow, that comforted me in showing that it wasn't that far, after all.

    I must have spent at least 15 minutes up there, just hesitating. Finally I told myself, It's now or never. And before I could change my mind, before I even knew what was happening, I hit the asphalt roof on the other side crawling, like a raccoon, up the rough slanted side, the shingles warm under my hands from the day in the sun, me not quite registering that I had made it until I reached the peak of the roof. And only then did I blink, did I look around, eyes wide, and did I cry out with joy. "Hey! Look! I did it! Ha ha! Can you believe it? I can't! Oh man! This is awesome!" I cried, high on my once-in-a-lifetime success. I looked down at the ground, at the way I had come, and at the sky above me chris-crossed with branches. I was flying. Almost. I wasn't weightless, I wasn't even moving, but I felt happy and powerful on my perch, closer to the clouds.
    I probably spent an hour up there, lounging on the warm shingles, listening to the birds, watching in amusement as the upstairs neighbor's daughter appeared with her boyfriend and got into a car right below me, without any clue of my presence. I chuckled. But it wasn't until the asphalt started to get cold did I start thinking about getting down.
    The neighbor's roof was slightly higher then the base of our own. That made it easier to get to where I was; going from high elevation to low elevation is a piece of cake. You just fall. But to go the other way around, that needs some muscle. Some elbow grease. Some strong legs. Or possibly just some long ones. For another 10 minutes I dwindled over my possibilities. Yes, I could jump, from the lowest place possible; but I didn't feel like risking it. I could climb down the ivy crawling up the garage wall; but, as I discovered, It couldn't hold my weight. And then again, I could always call for help; but I didn't want to be discovered. What to do? I faced my only other option; the other roof. The way I had come. It should also be the way to get out, then, right? So, yes, I tried.
    You know when you're about to jump, to pounce, to dive, and your safety is at risk, and you're hesitating, do you know that part of the ordeal when you just...stop? At the climax of the moment, when the action is underway, when doubt steps in again before your eyes and you pause, mid-leap, mid-pounce, mid-dive, and fall back? Well, that's happened to me a few times. And it happened a good amount of times during the roof adventure. I pushed myself, mentally and physically, to just jump that few feet. What was a few scratches if you fell compared to rotting up on your very own roof because you were too scared to jump? Eventually, as the air got as cold as the shingles, I hurled myself across the canyon, onto safe, solid roof. After a short breath, it was only a short climb down the fence to the sweet, firm ground. I sighed. Loud and long.

    It was a great adventure, but one of those ordeals that you know you will never attempt again. A once-in-a-lifetime. A glad-I-did-it-but-once-was-enough. You know, one of those. But one thing was clear, for sure: I'd had enough flying for a long time to come!
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