The summer I was 11, I stayed with my brother Pete and cousins in a cabin the size of a barn, in the middle of the woods, in Ashaway, Rhode Island, 20 minutes from the ocean. Before that we all stayed in my grandparents house half a mile down a dirt road, but by then my grandfather decided enough was enough and we needed to get the hell out. Of course he didn't put it like that; he made it sound like it was not only a privilege, but it was a magical vacation in a land far away. Which it was. No one said: What if they burn the place down, or get attacked by wolves, or meet up with a bevy of pedophiles on the prowl? Or at least if they did, the answer would have been: so be it. Basically they sent us away with a flashlight and a canteen, and told us to scream really loud if we saw the man with the ax.
We slept on the second floor on iron hospital beds with squeaky springs and moldy mattresses: a horny teenagers dream (although we didn't know about that yet). . When it rained we played a game where we weren't allowed to touch the floor; we had to hang from the rafters and if it got too difficult we could jump onto someone's mattress for a full minute-long break; but before we could do that we had to bribe them with an imaginary gift (For example once my cousin Miles told my brother he would install astroturf in his bedroom).
During the rest of the year we all lived in apartments in the city; some of our parents smoked weed, were divorced, divorcing, dead or not around. We argued and got bored and sulked and ganged up on each other, but we also told stories and played music and pretended we were in a castle in Vietnam. We weren't scared or worried or allergic to anything. All we could think was how lucky we were.