1. You come home late at night, after a hard day. The message light on the answering machine is blinking. You press play and listen. Choose one of the following messages as your starting point:
a. It’s finally happened, just as was foretold. Look out the window. They have finally come.
I recognized the voice. It was Corban. I called back.
“Hello?” his mom answered.
“Hi, it’s Nathan. Is Corban there?” I asked in my polite, I’m-talking-to-an-adult-and-I’m-nervous-about-it voice.
“Hi, Nathan. He sure is. Let me get him for you.” she answered reassuringly.
“Hey, Nathan!” Corban greeted me excitedly. “Look outside! Did you see them?!”
“What are you talking about, Corban?” I questioned.
“They’re here! Just look!” he kept insisting.
I looked outside, and I immediately saw what he was talking about. Snowflakes. I had completely forgotten it was supposed to snow that night. I guess I had grown so used to the disappointment of the weathermen forecasting snow and then nothing actually happening that I had begun simply assuming it wouldn’t happen and going on with my night. I don’t know why he always insisted on making everything sound like an alien invasion even if it was just snowflakes, but that’s part of what I loved about Corban. He was in 5th grade – only a year younger than me – but he had the strength of imagination of someone multiple years younger than either of us. I was glad he lived down the street from me because he brought that sort of wild and free imagination that I just seemed to struggle to find as a kid.
The next morning I bundled up in my snow pants and jacket that, combined, tripled my size and stomped out the door in my big, heavy snow boots. Corban met me out front, and we started walking. We didn’t even have to talk about where we were going. We both knew. There was no better place to sled than the big hill behind the community center. It was about a three hundred yard walk through Westover Park to get there, but that was worth it without a doubt for the thrills of the hill. Sleds sliding along behind us, we trekked through the white washed park. Everything was quiet except for the light sssssss of the sleds. It felt like Narnia. I thought of the scene in Narnia where the badger instructs the kids to be quiet because the trees are listening. They are alive. It felt like it. Around the skate park and up the hill towards the playground we adventured. Just past the playground, at the steepest, longest part of the hill, we set our sleds down. We looked at one another.
“You’re going down.”
And so it began. Two hours of thrilling rides down the hill ending in us bailing from the sleds and flipping through the snow as our sleds ran straight into the parking blocks at the bottom.
Exausted, we took our snow clothes off once we returned to my house. Upstairs, my mom was already cooking grilled cheese. If there are two things that make me happiest in life, they are dry clothes and grilled cheese on a cold, wet day. Needless to say, it was a good day.
These are the days you live for as a kid. No agenda. Nothing. Pure bliss. Pure freedom.