As a young boy, my family moved out of the city to an affluent house out on the lake. I moved from my local Austin school to the boonies and the “rich kid” school, Westlake High. I learned a bunch of things from that move.
- An elementary-aged kid does have quite a bit of agency
- Losing all of your friends in a parental move is hard
- Trying to become beloved and the class clown was often at odds
Out behind my house on the lake, I learned to create my own adventure. I would go “outside” and lose myself for hours in the woods. It’s all houses now, but as a kid, the woods were woods, filled with deer, armadillos, raccoons, and vultures. Occasionally, I would invite my huge (bigger in my eyes back then, say at seven years old), St. Bernard, to go with me. He wasn’t protection as much as a playmate.
I’m sure first grade, at my new school, with all the new cute girls to chase, was a hard transition. I would ride the bus for about 45 minutes to make it IN and OUT of my neighborhood. There were no kids nearby to play with. If I had a playdate it was planned and involved a parent willing to pick up their kid out “near the lake.” So, most afternoons I was by myself.
I threw rocks at glass beer bottles. I jumped over and into creeks. I damned up the water when it was flowing and had boat races. I got good at entertaining myself. I became a loner in my afterschool life. I was a magician and performer at school. But the long and hot afternoons were mostly my own, as my mom was pretty busy with her socialite stuff and baking cookies and making dinner.
I say it was a hard transition, now, fifty or so years later, because I got to return to my old classmates for 2nd and 3rd grade, and my mom drove me into town each morning for school. Even as I was chasing after girls in first grade (I can still recall that feeling on the playground), girls I still know via reunions and Facebook, I was missing my original friends, the two running buddies from kinder and first. Still close friends too, I might add.
But I was always wandering off into my own solo adventure. Or, should I be honest, and tell you that I still am?
Read more Short-Short Stories from John.