We moved to New Jersey from California right before the start of second grade. We drove across country in a rented moving truck. The kind with a small space behind the two front seats in the cab. My sister and I played games, argued, slept and ate all the junk food our mother had never let us eat before in that 6’ by 2’ stretch of rubber lining over metal. I know it sounds horrible, but it was really amazing.
We were moving from an LA suburb, from an apartment complex with a drained pool in the center courtyard. There were plenty of kids in that complex to play with and that fact almost made up for the sadness that a permanently empty pool can induce in a 7 year old. There was a cement drainage ditch in front of the building and the neighbor kids would skateboard in the sloped ditch. One afternoon, after a massive skateboard collision, there were skinned knees and elbows everywhere. For some reason I can’t recall, I tasted my blood, finger to knee to mouth. “It tastes salty,” I said. One of the kids next to me in the makeshift half-pipe had skin of a significantly darker hue than my own. He put a quick finger in his own mouth and announced, “mine tastes like pepper.” We all fell over ourselves in giggles.