Coming Up For Air by George Orwell:
I’d walked ten miles and I wasn’t tired. All day I’d trailed after the gang and tried to do everything they did, and they’d called me “the kid” and snubbed me as much as they could, but I’d more or less kept my end up. I had a wonderful feeling inside me, a feeling you can’t know about unless you’ve had it –but if you’re a man you’ll have had it some time. I knew that I wasn’t a kid any longer, I was a boy at last. And it’s a wonderful thing to be a boy, to go roaming where grown-ups can’t catch you, and to chase rats and kill birds and shy stones and cheek carters and shout dirty words. It’s a kind of strong, rank feeling, a feeling of knowing everything and fearing nothing, and it’s all bound up with breaking rules and killing things. The white dusty roads, the hot sweaty feeling of one’s clothes, the smell of fennel and wild peppermint, the dirty words, the sour stink of the rubbish dump, the taste of fizzy lemonade and the gas that made one belch, the stamping on the young birds, the feel of the fish straining on the line—it was all part of it. Thank God I’m a man, because no woman ever has that feeling.