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Rolling down a hill

October 7, 2012

Few things are as unfettered as rolling down a hill. The best you can do in terms of control is tuck in your arms. Sounds escape. Shoes slide off. Small blades of dry grass embed themselves in your hair.

Line up three people in a row and yell, “Go!” and one of you will roll over another. Heads will collide or feet will entangle and the third person will declare victory down where the hill bottoms out and the grass meets the sidewalk.

Ten, five, thirty-five. Age dissolves. When you stop your eyes keep rolling and the white clouds in the blue sky slide into focus again.

Glee. Terror. They are kindred rolling down a hill, their proximity in proportion to how steep or long the descent.

The best hill rolls happen in the fall. Autumn, I mean. Small bumps appear if your arms aren’t covered. Tiny scratches and impressions on unsocked ankles.

Today I rolled down the same hill I rolled down three years ago with my son and my niece. Twenty-three years ago with sixth-grade friends a year older than she is now. Time compresses in a tight spiral rolling, rolling, rolling until the ground flattens. We finally stop and lay still trying to still ourselves, staring at the slowing sky, one arm akimbo across our foreheads to shade us from the sun.

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