The first time I died, I was five.
My grandparents 1965 black Rambler Classic station wagon flew down the Edmonds ferry pier with me in the back seat, crashed through the red- and white-striped crossing gates, and then cannonballed down into the murk of Puget Sound, mere yards away from where George Brackett landed his canoe during a windstorm in 1876 and then promptly set about selling the land out from underneath the resident Snohomish tribe, to their eventual dismay.
Five year-olds have little fear, as everything is new and exciting, so the facts that there was no braking, the crashing of the painted plywood as it skittered across the hood and ricoched off the windshield with a smack, the butterfiles-in-the-stomach drop as the sea embraced one and a half tons of machine folded steel, rubber, chrome and leather, and the fast envelopment by the chill waters patrolled by killer whales, were greeted by me with laughter.
The laughter changed to startled terror as a Pacific octopus erupted from between the seat and back, and enveloped me in its rubbery, spider-like grip. I blacked out, or maybe it was the ink clouding the water, but my last memory was of my grandparents sitting in the front seat, my grandmother admonishing my sedate grandfather, “Douglas, you’ve left the turn signal on again!” and of him flashing that sheepish grin of his that served him so well in comfortably avoiding true hardship and reality through the The Great War, The Depression, World War II, and the disintegration of his progeny.