Climbing on the roof before dying: check

October 29, 2012 — by Helen Wong

Personally, I have quite a few things I’d like to do before I kick the bucket.

Personally, I have quite a few things I’d like to do before I kick the bucket. I’d like to visit the International Space Station and look at Earth from space, find the cure for cancer and watch a marathon session of all the “Doctor Who” episodes from the very first pilot episode in 1963.

Unfortunately, I can’t do any of this now. I’ll have to save those things to do after I win my Nobel Prize in literature.

For now, I’ll settle for one of the things I’ve always wanted to do ever since I moved to Saratoga: Climb onto the roof of my house. When I was 6, I threw one of those tiny rubber balls up there, and I couldn’t get it back. It irritated me, because I liked that neon green ball, thank you very much.

Ever since, I’ve had an irrational desire to climb up on the roof and retrieve that ball. Now, I have the chance to achieve that want.

My house is two stories. It looks a bit like if you took a large rectangular block with a roof and plopped a smaller block with a roof on top of it, kind of like a layer cake. The point is, the upper roof is pretty high up. In order to get there, I would have to get onto the lower roof first.

I waited until my parents were out. True, there were several other things I could have done without parental supervision, like play Starcraft or burn my SAT books, but as I said, I wanted to climb onto my roof—without, I hoped, causing my death.

Complications arose on my first try. Initially, I felt pretty cool right before I was about to leap from a rather high branch on the tree in my front yard four feet down onto the lower roof.

Though that indubitably would have been awesome, I realized that I probably wouldn’t make it, and that I had no desire to break bones or go into a coma. I refrained from jumping, and like an intelligent person, climbed down to a lower branch. From there, I could simply step down, which is exactly what I did.

Stage one of my genius plan: Make it onto the lower roof, alive and unhurt. Check. Initiate stage two: getting onto the upper roof, again preferably alive and unhurt.

I edged along the lower roof; it’s rather narrow until it hits the garage, and it’s also slanted. Thankfully, I, being a prepared and foresightful person, had worn my track cleats.

Once I made it to the garage roof, I had some space to work with. I had two options: I could climb onto another tree right next to me, and hopefully get to the upper roof from there, or I could try to walk up the 10-foot side of the upper story like a gecko.

I chose the tree option, and ended up on the upper roof, illuminated by the afternoon sunlight, basking in triumph and glory and pride. Why, I could hear the victorious music ringing in my ears.

Then, I made a search-and-rescue attempt for the green ball, but I could find nothing.

I’m glad no one seemed to notice a wild teenager had appeared on a rooftop.

I did not emerge unscathed, no. I have several scrapes and bruises now, but no matter. They are badges of honor.

I spent the next 15 minutes or so standing on my roof in a blaze of glory. After getting bored, though, I started the long, dangerous trek back down to the ground, during which I sustained several more badges of honor.

When I got back to ground, I won’t lie, I really was relieved to be off the roof. But at the same time, I felt proud and rather satisfied. That’s one thing checked off my bucket list.

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