It was 1991, the year I bought my own present: a crisp skate deck with immaculate grip tape.

California has nothing on Michigan when it comes to winter weather. The clouds promise something but don’t deliver, like friends who mimic the “shaka” phone as they walk away promising to get in touch but you never hear back. Some wind offerred a mild nose-chill temperature, just enough to warrant a sweatshirt and beanie.

I snapped ollies over the parking blocks layed out like matchsticks on the dirty asphalt skirting the Lutheran education center a few blocks from the house.

I don’t remember Christmas with my family. Is it weird that I can remember the deodoarant I wore in high school but not a single Christmas with my Christian family throughout my life?

It happened in less than twelve seconds.

I was rolling alongside a six-foot brick wall behind-which I heard a dog barking in the yard. My skateboard wheels ticking over the varied cracks between soiled slabs of cement. In the third second of this saga, I realized the dog’s bark was travelling with me on the other side of the wall, then broke ahead, fading slightly like the police giving chase. In the fifth second, the sound bounced over the wall at the short portion hemming the front yard and I saw the source; the gray fur looking like a collection of dirty hair after a Baptist outreach for the penitent homeless. It launched over the stone wall and immediately it was at my side in pathetic protest.

Small and furious.

I was about to laugh, but instead I snapped up my board in defense. My roaring and flailing prevailed and it shirked back behind the wall the way it came.

I swore revenge as I rolled home with two small puncture wounds in my left leg.