“How am I going to get home?” My panicked 6-year-old sister asked while following me around the school playground like my shadow.
I had just found a bus ticket on the ground (an older student must have dropped it on their way home). I was behaving erratically. I was overly excited and ecstatic. It was like the equivalent of finding a hidden stash of cupcakes and Halloween treats. You could practically see the drool coming from my mouth. Except there wasn’t any drool. Also, in this case, it wasn’t Halloween and there were no treats. But I felt freaking alive; it was exhilarating. I have no idea why, but something in me had awoken. I was in grade 3, just about to turn 8.
I was walking in circles, psyching myself up to ride the bus alone. It’s not like I haven’t been on a bus before. Do I need a transfer? Mom always asked for a transfer. What would I need the transfer for? What exactly does the transfer do? That’s when my little sister approached me.
“I don’t know. Just go find Carol!” I responded huffily. *Carol, our older sister, was in grade 5. I was irritated and trying to get my little sister off my back quickly. Time was running out and I had a lot on my mind, what with trying to navigate the metropolitan transit system and all. We lived one block down the road from our school, but I was confused about which number bus to take lest I miss my one stop.
That time of year, the ground was newly thawed from old winter’s wrath and spring had just sprung. I’d never taken the bus on my own before and finding this ticket was like stumbling upon a pot of gold for me. I looked at that bus ticket and I could instantly envision my freedom and independence. Plus, I didn’t have to walk all the way home for once.
So, off I went. I secured my little knapsack and with bus ticket in hand, I hopped happily to the bus stop stationed in front of my school. As soon as a bus came, I boarded it praying it was the right one and immediately asked for a transfer. Just as fast as I had boarded that bus, it was already time to exit it at the next stop. I got off and there stood my grandmother, perplexed to see me getting off a city bus.
“Why are you getting off this bus and where is your sister?”
“It’s fine, grandma.” I grabbed her hand and pulled her toward the busy street. “Just take me across the street, please. Hurry! My sisters are on their way!”
We lived on top of a restaurant facing a busy road with no street lights or stop signs. The street also diverged so traffic was always going every which way. Every day after school, my grandmother dutifully waited for my sisters and I on one side of the street to make sure we crossed safely.
When she greeted me that day, my only concern was getting home ages before my sisters just to prove somehow that taking the bus was worthwhile. It was brilliant logic. I remember hightailing it the rest of the way home, after safely crossing the street with my grandmother, just to catch my breath after stuffing my face with my after-school snack so that it would look like I’d been home hours ago. My sisters walked in 5 minutes after me and looked at me like I was a lunatic. They weren’t wrong.
And that’s the story about the time I selfishly abandoned my little sister for a small slice of freedom.
How about you? Do you have any similar early year stories about wanting to flee the nest?
Liked this post? Check out other popular posts on my blog:
*This was a truthful recollection of actual events in my life. Some conversations have been recreated and/or supplemented based on memory (to the best of my knowledge). The names and details of some individuals have been changed to respect their privacy.