The first time I drove the entire way up Emigration Canyon and realized the freeway connected to Park City and it was as though all the barriers I’d grown up with fell down.
The first time I drove my car 100 miles an hour.
The first time I dyed my hair blue.
When I dropped acid in the Zen garden in San Francisco.
When I smoked pot on the Matterhorn in Disneyland, got caught, and was told by an employee I was banned for life.
When I crowd surfed at the X concert.
When I took the TJV by myself from Lyon to Paris.
When I initiated a one-night stand with a man I didn’t know.
When I camped for a week in the Utah desert by myself.
When I went back to Disneyland years later with my Christian mother-in-law to be.
The time when I spoke in front of 3000 people at my PhD graduation and left in the part about grad students being exploited labor even though they told me to take it out.
The time when my husband and I were split and I put a ladder on the lower roof to get up to the upper roof and cleaned the gutters of the house I lived in alone with my daughter.
The time when I rode a zip line and wondered what would happen if I didn’t put the brakes on until the last minute and smashed into the pole because I wondered so long.
When I checked myself into a mental hospital because I didn’t sleep for 72 hours.
When I didn’t kill myself.
When I got back with my husband after he had an affair so my daughter would have a father.
When I published my first story under my own name, not the pseudonym my mother insisted on.
The first time I learned to snorkel, in Catalina. It took me all day to believe I could breathe through that tube, to trick my body’s fear of drowning and stuff down the fight or flight. But finally, covered in scratches from the coral I kept getting swept into, water-wrinkled and sunburned, I suddenly relaxed. Under me and around me was a school of yellow and blue fish. Hundreds of them. I too was a fish. I ducked below the surface, ran my hand along the plants at the bottom of the ocean. Then I looked up through the silent water and saw the sun above me and thought maybe the world was not as small as I had always thought it to be.
Claire Lawrence is a professor of Creative Writing at Bloomsburg University. She has a PhD in Creative Writing: Fiction from the University of Houston and an MFA in Fiction from the University of Utah. She has published fiction, poetry, and memoir in numerous magazines including Crab Orchard Review, TriQuarterly, Event Magazine, Terra Nova, and Western Humanities Review. She lives in the forest with her husband, children, and two Pekingeses named Mushu and Kung Pao.