When I don’t leave the house all day, I become a danger to myself. Cursed as I am with a Netflix subscription, it’s too easy to reach for a bag of popcorn and hit play on yet another John Hughes movie. I cleaned my room today to make myself feel better, but even organized bookshelves and a pristine floor can’t distract me from the fact that my summer is whittling itself away.

“Let’s go to the park tonight,” I said to my dad. I texted my best friend to let her know we were heading there, and a little while later my parents and I were on our bikes on the way to a city park that boasts a large grassy field and the best kind of old wooden playground.

As we walked out onto the field, my dad asked, “Who wants to fly first?”

I was first to volunteer: “I will!”

Fly as in kites. My dad collects them—specifically, he collects foil kites, lightweight contraptions, often wider than I am tall, controlled by two strings. The first one we launched in the park is huge—about 32 square feet—and has dragged every member of my family across countless fields and beaches. In tonight’s light wind, it was easy to control as long as I kept the straps wrapped around my wrists and my feet firmly planted. It feels like having a living, breathing animal at the other end of the strings as the kite pulls you this way and that, whistling through the air on every pass and forcing you to hold tight just to keep your footing. Then the wind drops and the lines suddenly go slack and you go reeling backwards. It’s fantastic.

Just as I was regaining my feel for the beast, crossing and uncrossing the strings, sending it on lazy loop-the-loops, then sending it into a nosedive to see how close I could get it to the ground before bringing it back up unscathed, my friend arrived with her family. They’d brought their own foil kite, which had yet to make its inaugural flight. Once theirs was successfully airborne, I handed our kite’s lines to my dad and headed for the playground with my friend and her little brother.

Playing tag on playgrounds is harder than it was when I was little. I kept hitting my head on overhangs and parallel bars. But the fun we had, and how hard we laughed, made the bruises totally worth it.

I realized something important today: No matter how much I talk about wanting to do things and experience stuff, nothing is going to happen unless I make it so. Every box on my bucket list—surfing, building bikes, running trails through forests—will only be checked off if I take the initiative to find those experiences.

I just want to have a summer worth remembering. And I still have plenty of time. ♦