I have this really clear little memory of walking through the park at dawn with a couple of friends, on our way home from some terrible party. I would have been about sixteen years old and I seem to see myself walking through the low, white mist that wound through the trees and lay like a breath exhaled across the neat lawns. I see our silly fashionable clothes, I see us laughing and laughing at some joke, our smeared faces aching with happiness and cold.
But what I remember so well isn’t the joke or the laughter, or even my friends, whose faces I can only make out dimly now, like they were floating under ice. I just remember feeling suddenly that anything was possible for me, that I could live forever, that I could make astonishing things happen if I just set my mind to it and hung on with all my strength no matter what.
It felt like great wings beating, beating through the storm of fear inside of me, all mixed up with the laughter and the cold — it was like a great bird, a swan, set free and flying into the light. And now, you know, I don’t see too well. That savage light blinded me, those wings carried me along so fast it took my breath away and all I thought was, don’t look down, never look down — then you won’t see the danger and you won’t be afraid. People thought I was brave, I let them think that — but I wasn’t — I just never looked down.