Posted to OGR on 02/06/2011
Driving to work in the mornings, I pass a couple of schools. The roads surrounding the schools are so choked with parents dropping off kids, that it takes a third of my entire commute time just to go those few blocks. While I was stuck in traffic on Friday morning, it suddenly struck me that there were no traffic jams around my schools when I was growing up. Most of us either walked or rode our bikes to school even elementary schools; something that is rare today. My first grade year, I took the city bus to school, which was on my local bus route. Mom could see the bus stop from her kitchen window and on the first day, she waited at the stop with me and talked to the bus driver to get him to look after me. The Christmas of my first grade year, my brother and I both received bright shiny new Schwinn bicycles. Boy, were we excited, and there was a happy look on my dad’s face. Little did we know that the plan was to save the bus fare by having us ride to school. It was safe enough, with the two of us riding together.
By time I reached the sixth grade and started noticing girls, the bicycle became a liability. No self respecting “older kid” wanted to be seen riding a bicycle. So I began to walk to school, it took longer but it was more “manly” and I did not have to worry about where to park the bike when the racks at school were overloaded. The girl I had a crush on lived so far from school that her mother drove her sisters and her to school. The 5 seconds on the road when they passed and waved were the highlight of my afternoon.
I walked home with some other kids that lived closer to the school than I did, so we walked together, laughing and talking and exploring the side of the road. But eventually, I had to walk the last few blocks alone. When I arrived at home, I would be caught up in the hustle and bustle of my family again. As much as I liked the company of my friends, those solitary blocks were special. They were the only time of day that I was truly alone. My mind wandered across the events of the day, sometimes the class lessons but more often to the things my friends and classmates said and did. It was a good time to make the transition from the school day, to unwind in the joy of the motion of walking down the road, my backpack swinging from one strap, never two, that wasn’t cool. That reminds me of the one question that came to mind walking home that I never could answer. “Why is the motion of a pony tail on a good looking girl, swinging side to side as she walks down the street, so sexy?” Oh MY!
Copyright 2011 Rick Wrigley