I was eleven the first time I figured out I’d made a habit out of holding my breath.
It was a muggy June afternoon, smacked in the middle of a week at camp, and I was on a hike with about six other boys my age. We came to a river, and they all broke into motion, water parting and spilling against their reckless limbs. I watched them, frozen, and scanned the surface for rocks. Testing them first, I stepped slowly across, tiny ripples and silent steps.
I made it across, caught up to them once my feet found solid ground. Our entire hike followed this pattern. Later, as we sat around our bunks eating fruit snacks and granola bars, they poked fun at me. “If we didn’t take Michael with us, the hike would have been five minutes.”