Grit on your feet and sand in your hair.
Skin feels tight from full days in the sun and water and nights around the smoking campfire.
Tender burned spots on your shoulders and back of your legs where you didn’t put enough sunscreen on.
You’re in the back of the station wagon, watching the trees blur into a green line. Ham and cheese on white bread. A bag of chips. A soda that’s not quite cold but tastes good enough anyway.
You use your toes to scratch at a mosquito bite on one leg.
It’s a little too warm on the backseat, the AC doesn’t blow strong enough to counteract the hot humid air. There are stripes of sun on your right side until you round a bend and dip into a valley. The trees grow tall on both sides of the road. The ditch is an unpaved mess, tangled grass that creeps onto the shoulder of the road but stops abruptly at the trees. There are some lines even weeds know not to cross.
You’re drowsy. Three full days of swimming, running on trails, climbing trees, sleeping in a tent, sitting in the front of a beat-up ski boat that bounces you on the waves and makes you feel fast and alive and unstoppable.
You’re worried about some things, like every kid is, but your body knows how to shut down the thoughts. You haven’t learned yet to ignore your body, to dismiss yourself so easily. So your head leans to the side and your eyes slide shut and you’ll sleep until the crunch of tires on gravel wakes you up, the slowing, the turn, the familiar sound easing you back, bringing you home.