By BenedictFrancis, Flickr Creative Commons.

Each day is a gift!

I often wonder how I managed to survive my youth.

Here’s a delightful run-down of all the things I did that could have got me killed or, at the very least, arrested.

When I was 15, a group of us explored the legendary underground tunnels of Phoenix. We sneaked into the Hyatt through a utility entrance, climbed through a wall, and shimmied down some pipes to get there. The “tunnels” are really just a bunch of depressing and abandoned offices. When we surfaced, we were in a completely different building.

Shortly after, this same group of kids decided to visit the abandoned dog tracks off the I-10 West. It was Thanksgiving night. We arrived and there were three unmarked vans (the kind without windows) parked by the structure. We could see flashlight beams coming from one of the upper levels. My friends insisted we were safe. I feared rape and torture. I ran back to the car and they followed.

Desperate for any chance to drink beer, my fellow 16-year-old pals and I spent an evening in a South Phoenix apartment drinking cans of Bud Light. The electricity had been turned off and there was no running water. As we gathered around a fire in the middle of the living room, someone came in and pulled a gun. No big deal.

Speaking of fires, my mischievous older brother got in trouble for building a small fire in our backyard when we were very young. There was a bucket filled with water nearby so my mom gave me permission to pour the water on the fire. I dumped it over the flames and then I was violently jerked away. It wasn’t water. It was paint thinner.

I drove drunk. A lot.

Lou and I didn’t pay attention to the instructions in my hiking book and went on a four-mile trek to Picacho Peak without recommended supplies or a proper meal in our stomachs. By the end, we had dangled from wires on the sheer sides of rocks. Multiple times. Luckily, we avoided falling to our deaths. Instead, we walked away with sunburns, the need for a tetanus shot, and the memory of multiple emotional breakdowns.