THE CHILDHOOD STORY THAT STILL ACCURATELY REPRESENTS MY LIFE

  1. You know those stories from when you're like two to five?
  2. Those stories you aren't sure you actually remember, or you've just been told them so many times you created the memory of it?
  3. This is one of those.
  4. I was three or four years old.
  5. It was the heart of a fierce Midwestern winter.
  6. The snow falling in fresh battalions every few nights, and not just soft flurries but an airstrike from on high.
  7. The sort of snow that crunches under foot like a crisp autumn leaf.
  8. The sort of snow your feet don't sink into, but that solidifies under your boots as you trudge through it.
  9. One weekend, we were visiting family a bit north, in Wisconsin. Aunts, Uncles, and Cousins were all gathered together for some occasion.
  10. We went to the park, and a snowball fight was quickly initiated by one of my rascally older cousins, likely by throwing a snowball at my Uncle George.
  11. I was just a little tike, me and Boaz (my two months younger cousin) were probably the smallest children actually out there.
  12. I huddled behind a playground structure and began forming perfect snowballs.
  13. My older brother eventually crouched behind the same structure.
  14. He was more of a "just smash a pile of snow and lob it" kind of kid.
  15. I was never like that, I took my time to perfectly round each snowball I made.
  16. I was working on building up a supply with which to announce my entrance into the ferocious snowball fight.
  17. But he would grab my perfect snowballs and launch them at the grown-ups.
  18. He was always a bit fiester and less cautious than I, and of course a few years older; the grow-ups threw snowballs back at him hard but I was safe crouched behind the structure, building up my supply of perfect snowballs.
  19. Finally, I was ready. I had built us up a stash and felt it was time I joined the fight.
  20. My brother was just finishing a volley of snowballs at my father and he ducked just as I went up to throw my first snowball.
  21. Valiantly swinging my arm as my head poked over the wall, I was ready to enter the battle with a perfectly placed throw.
  22. Instead, just as my head cleared the wall, the snowball that had just been thrown at my brother hit me square in the face.
  23. I was knocked back and down, the perfect snowball rolling out of my hands and being crushed under my brothers feet.
  24. My father had just knocked me out with a snowball.
  25. The grown-ups stopped the battle. Torn between an outburst of laughter and some small concern for my well-being.
  26. After all, the velocity of that snowball was meant for my older brother, nobody would have thrown that hard at me!
  27. I was okay, of course.
  28. But right now that's how life feels.
  29. and it's been that way for awhile now.
  30. I keep working hard and spending time trying to make sure I'm ready for something.
  31. I don't go rushing into things. I think them out, I make sure I'm prepared. I try to make the wise decision.
  32. But as soon as I stand up, in valiant confidence and ready for anything.
  33. I get hit in the face by a giant snowball.
  34. and knocked back down.
  35. It's like, every single time something starts looking up.
  36. School, a job opportunity, a romance, or anything;
  37. I think I'm standing up and finally going to be in the arena.
  38. and I get knocked out before I even find my footing.
  39. and I just wonder:
  40. Will I ever find that footing? Will I ever get the chance to fight back?
  41. Or will that snowball keep knocking me on my ass every single time I stand up?
  42. I need a job.