When my family was living in Saudi Arabia, my sister and I were just reaching the age at which Driver's Education was offered back in The States. My father, realizing his kids would soon be sequestered in European or American boarding schools, must have felt the clock was ticking on his opportunity to provide sage instruction on the proper use of a motor vehicle (Do all fathers feel this?), and took my sister and I out on the roads around our house to help us get our feet wet.
As I recall, my sister did just about as well as any first time driver. She listened intently, nervously eyed the roads, and depressed the accelerator and brake with a little too much urgency. I, on the other hand, couldn't stop giggling as soon as the speedometer hit 35mph. The giggling was uncontrollable. I didn't feel it coming, it just flowed out of me and did not stop until the vehicle was in park and I was out from behind the wheel. I can't tell you why I giggled -and it was most certainly giggling and not laughing - with so much glee, but something about driving was so much fun. It was completely new to me and the sensation of complete freedom and untapped power was delicious. My sister called me Dr. Giggles.
I was reminded of this just the other night as I was hurtling down a steep, snowy slope... at night...warmed by a few (several) sips of rum...on a pirated sled...in cycling tights. This was my first sledding experience. Growing up in places like Texas and Saudi Arabia precludes much snow time and at a certain age I guess you just assume your acceptable window for sledding has slammed shut, at least until you have kids. Thank Christ I have friends who do not think this way.
Armed with a four wheel drive vehicle, ridiculous winter attire, sleds of suspect origin and craftsmanship, and a designated driver, six of us set out to accomplish the more-difficult-than-it-sounds task of finding a sled worthy hill in a flat Midwest city. This rapidly morphed into Guerrilla Sledding. Piled mounds of plowed snow, front yards with steep embankments, and church parking lots became brief and hilarious victims of Guerrilla Sledding. The quality of any actual sledding was highly debatable, but this is also about the time my giggling started. Again, it was most certainly giggling and not laughing or the more adult sounding, "chuckling."
Eventually, we arrived at a sledding specific hill in a public park and behaved like idiots until our clothes began to freeze. I'm pretty sure we contributed nothing to the actual art of sledding -Sled. Crash. Collect self. Stand. Grab sled. Run back up hill. Repeat - but something blessedly new was sledded into my head. Each time I plunged down that hill I was six and my dad was throwing me high into the air above his bed so I could land in a pile of blankets and pillows. I was eight and I was spending all of a summer evening jumping from the high dive into the deep, cool water of the pool below me. I was twelve and I was riding my first roller coaster with my now gone friend, Andrew. As soon as the ride stopped we would leap from our car, sprint to the back of the line, and do it all over again. We counted our roller coaster rides at over thirty that day. I would give anything for one more.
Each time I found myself crumpled in the snow at the base of the hill I felt a little lighter and a little younger. Staring at the night sky, catching my breath, and listening to the muffled laughs of my friends, I exhaled the frustrations of the winter and giggled uncontrollably. There is something about repetitive fun that blows the soot out and makes us all children again. When you've done something so fun that logic dictates it be immediately done again, hold on to it. It's a way back. I hope I can always get back to fifteen.