Or: Why I’m Grateful My Parents Didn’t Give Me to Carnival Folk When I Was a Child
When I was a little girl, I was, to put it politely, pesky.* To help keep my parents on their toes, I balanced out my charming, well-behaved, thoughtful older brother by instigating mischievous mayhem and bringing home all sorts of tiny wild animals.
*I have yet to grow out of this phase.
By the time I was 10, we lived in a little bungalow house in California.
The house was so little, there was no proper entrance to the attic. Instead, there was a conspicuous strange opening, covered with a plank of wood, in the roof of my closet.
Like many other suburban Bay Area homes, our house had a drop-tile attic entrance that you needed a ladder to access. We kept our ladder permanently in place, because we went up to the attic a lot.
Like any child with immediate, constant access to a very tall and dangerous ladder, I played on it as much as humanly possible. I sat on the rungs and read books. I climbed up it to get to my Barbies. I staged elaborate imaginary sea-battles from the top of the ladder, because, well, that was safe.
My mother would warn me to be careful and bribe me to stay off the ladder. But I was confident.
But I had a tendency to climb the ladder in socks. And, as it happens, parents tend to be right about a lot more things than 10-year-olds.
And one day I fell off of the top of the ladder. I smacked into the floor at terminal 10-year-old velocity. It wasn’t a very high fall, but it was enough that I thought I was paralyzed. As I lay on the ground squeaking out pathetic noises, my parents came rushing in.
This happened more than one time**. But it never once deterred my mental stance of confidence. I was filled with a strange survival-detrimental confidence that I was really good at being on ladders.
**At least sixteen before I even hit high school.
If I were my parents, I probably would have sold me to the circus.