i) Age six: A clubhouse, rocket ship, Launchpad, meeting spot, where the murder took place, the best hideout, the X on the treasure map.
ii) Age ten: The Highest Viewing Point in the World. Where friends met after mom cleared the dining room table (keep your walkie talkies on, people!). The punching bag when the boy down the street bet he could handle more splinters in his fists than you (he couldn’t).
iii) Age thirteen: A tall, seemingly alive structure rooted in the soil containing leaves and branches. Rings in the trunk number the years apparent structure has been standing. (I got an A in science class this year).
iv) Age fifteen: Where the neglected swing with the frayed rope hangs. Mom double-knotted it on the branch, and you just now realized that is kind of weird and probably not too safe. Mom yanked the rope pretty hard though.
v) Age sixteen: A structure standing only because the roots stay tangled, holding hands with each other, linking arms to prevent the other halves from disintegrating in the soil. A structure with iced veins in the winter, but hazel eyes and short sleeves in summer. A structure waiting for summer.
vi) Age seventeen: The realization that branches can bloom flowers and the swing is still tied on. The winds haven’t knocked it over, and it is still the X on the treasure map.
See also: marrow, veins, ground(ed)