Despite a childhood straight out of Stepford, I still believed in Happily Ever Afters
Maybe it was because I escaped my really shitty reality by reading books
I remember getting a bike for my 8th birthday/baptism. Okay, my younger sister got the exact same one for her “half-birthday” which always seemed to coincide with my birthday but this year IT. DIDN’T. MATTER.
I was so excited, it would make it easier for me to go to the bookmobile and library during the summer. I figured I could carry a lot more books in a basket on the front of the pink, banana-seat, bike than I could schlep home in my arms.
I overlooked it was “girly“.
Which I hated.
Which I loathed.
Had tassels on the handlebars.
Really??!! Are we just trying to get my ass kicked by the neighborhood kids??!!
Or that it was actually from my grandparents but my parents took credit.
It was freedom and a way to satiate my book habit.
Here is how summer would go:
Dad would catch the carpool around 6:30 a.m.
Mom would be gone with her best friend for “Pepsi and a candy bar” shortly after
Dad got home around 6:00 p.m.
Mom got home about 5:58 p.m.
That was my childhood – free range children
Stellar Parenting Plan:
- Put your eight year old, very naive daughter on a bike.
- Never, ever check in on her throughout the entire summer.
- Show her how to signal left or right on the bike but don’t mention strangers, predators, or pedophiles.
Flawless game plan.
Parenting Darwinism at it’s best.
The public library was roughly 3 miles away and entailed crossing a busy highway or weaving through unfamiliar neighborhoods.
I may have been naive but I was also pretty scared of my own shadow so I chose the highway over the neighborhoods (besides, I didn’t know anyone in that area of town and figured the girly, pink bike was going to get my ass kicked so why push it).
However the literary gods shone down on me – that summer the Bookmobile came to my elementary school every Tuesday. The elementary school was just over a mile away – very doable on a bike.
Lord of the Rings, Rosemary’s Baby, Watership Down, 1984, The Chronicles of Narnia, Demon Seed, Star Trek, Steven King . . . not really 8-year old material but I didn’t care. I read everything I could. Even Sybil, ’cause it made me feel good.
I didn’t want to read kids books because I was starting to figure out there was no “Happily Ever After” in life.
I still hoped.
And still get disappointed on a daily basis.
Maybe that’s why it’s still reassuring for me to know I’m not the only one with a fucked up life.