'Dictionary of an Arizona Childhood' by Lily Dodge


Entry: Tear Up

Tear up. v. Slang: to perform impressive athletic feats in an area.

A girl should own more bathing suits than shoes, because you don’t need shoes to tear up the dance floor at a pool party and catch a cute lifeguard who will always smell like chlorine even under his bathing suit.

We tore up the Phoenix streets on scooters and rollerblades once the sun set low enough to cool the sticky asphalt, out with the streetlights, home with the dry air’s chill once the city let go of its heat like a wrung sponge.

See also: West Coast slang, X-treme, gnarly, sk8r, golf courses with poor weeknight security, the sound of bike tires over dry buffelgrass, minivan roofs, emulating television stunts, the scar on my right foot.

Tear up. v. To destroy something by damaging its structural integrity.

We tore up the scraggly lawn building dirt ramps to jump our BMX bikes into the pool, where we tore up the plaster bottom kicking the bikes down under us – the first rule of water is to never forget which way is up.

Arizona kids are all coal walkers, mystics and charlatans, confident and quick crossing hot streets barefoot so we don’t tear up our feet too much and reach the cool end grimace-smiling I didn’t even feel it.

See also: the color all plastic turns after a month in the sun, hail storm damage like gentle bullet holes, blisters, the shape of a barbed-wire cut, archery sets after Dad sees the car, the scar on my right foot.


Lily Dodge has the largest collection of polka-dot underwear currently on record.