[July 2011: This was a clickable map, but it's not anymore, so just pretend things move or link or whatever it was they did back in college.]
Long, long ago in an era I like to call adolescence" and a time of year that Ilike to call "summer," I found myself on the northern coast of California. I mean, I didn't "find" myself, "find" myself, like figuring out who I am and stuff, that just happens to be where I was physically located at certain moments of the summer. So, in this particular time of my life, I was camping with my family among the misty redwoods that line the coastal hillsides of my beloved state. Always a pleasant experience, I remember our camping trips with a bright fondness, despite the hazy dampness of the fog that the Pacific Ocean sets upon our annual campsite--that is until one summer when a disastrous storm released itself upon my older sister and me.
After a meal of steak and perhaps sweet white corn, if I recall correctly, another of the hearty meals for which my family's "tailgate" camping style is known, my sister and I were going to take a drive to the grocery store a few miles down the road to buy Hershey's candy bars for what else? S'mores! Opening the doors to our little white Saturn, my sister on the driver's side and myself on the passenger's side, we were completely oblivious to the events that would unfold in the next few moments. As I placed my left foot into the car, lowering myself into the seat, my sister doing the same on the other side of the car, except, I imagine with her right foot first, a small forest creature, I like to call, a "bird" swooped menacingly into the four-door. In a frantic flutter of feathers and beady eyes, the animal screeched about our heads and flung itself against the windows and dashboard in a horrible scene of both angry savagery and helpless panic. We were out of the car faster than dog hair to a cute pair of tailored and freshly dry-cleaned black pants.
"Kevin!" we called, certain that our brother who by this point in our camping trip had come to resemble a barefoot and half-clothed Mowgli from The Jungle Book, would surely save us. Instead, he and an audience of family members laughed in the face of our misery. The bird continued to bounce off of the car windows and doors and headrests like a pinball, until it managed to fling itself out of one of the two open doors like an angry bull out of its pen, charging towards the blue matador of a hazy sky. Our hearts racing, my sister and I embraced as our siblings began their mock reenactments of our brush with death. And now we hate birds.