Once upon a time, I hired a boat captain to take me to an island in the South Pacific so that I could camp there over the weekend.  I was prepared or so I thought.  I had goggles and canned food.  I had my snorkel and disposable camera.  What I didn't have was a can opener that worked or bug spray: the lack of both the cause of my quick undoing.  Soon enough, I took my sunburnt body to the shore, wadded into the clear blue water, and began swimming to the nearest passing boat, thinking all the while that riptides and sharks don't exist.
It was the second time I was almost deported from Australia.
The other day, I tried not to stare at the woman with long, scraggily hair streaked thickly with dull iron gray.  She was studying the meat, the chicken, the rows of sausages at the store.  I could see how she calculated the cost, how she looked at the prices and set them next to what was in her dollar store purse.  It was sad.  I finally looked away.  I imagined that she felt she didn't belong on the pretty aisle.
I needed a job, needed to help out my mom, a new widow, so I marched a mile over rough sidewalk to the company that droned from nine to five, making sawdust and wood chips -- what else, I couldn't say -- and I saw this dust, these chips upon entering the din and thought, I could sweep them up; I could do a good job.  But I was eleven, just a boy, the big bearded man said, which, I suppose, is why I cried all the way home.
A van passed by my house every now and then, and from it flies a newspaper I never read.  The beat up van is piloted by an older woman, and the thrower of the newspaper is, I have to believe, her son.  He is balding, scrawny, and wearing BCGs (birth control glasses in military parlance).  What do I witness when I see these two pass by?  A failure to launch?  Some kind of curious brokenness?  An inability or refusal to fall in step?  Perhaps it is only a mother who won't abandon her child come age, come failure, come what may.
Route 62 from Irvine to Tidioute was a head-shaker of a road: tight, curvy, dark in all the wrong spots -- a wicked stretch between the foothills and the river.  Peterson had this blue hatchback, and there we were, tooling down the road, speakers blaring Metallica or Nirvana or some such angst.  The doe, of course, appeared out of nowhere, and we clipped her good, dented the hood even, so Peterson braked hard and skidded to a stop.  We found her in the brush beyond the weeds, hunkered low, legs folded in, and breathing hard.
"What the heck," one of us said then stared some more at the loss until Peterson said, "Tire iron."
"She's hurt.  We need to be merciful."
A few years back, my uncle stood with my cousin and me on the banks of the Brokenstraw Creek that ran through Youngsville.  He advised us to fish for trout in the bend where it gets deep.  He had given us similar advice before, but what struck me was how he punctuated his advice.  "You boys oughta float some night crawlers where the riffles begin to even out."  Boys.  There I was a thirty-something man with three kids so appreciative to be called a boy.
When my girls rides their bikes, they get suited up pretty well: pants, long-sleeve shirts, and helmet.  They are prepared for what might befall them as they cruise and wind around our cul-de-sac.  I think about how the adults of my youth would sometimes holler, "Get into the back of the truck!" and how we kids would be thrilled at the prospect of a hot summer's wind blowing through our young hair.  Is it sad that my kids may never hear that call to adventure?  I wonder.  Perhaps so.