Okay, I’m going to just come out and admit it: I was kind of a weird kid. Not that anyone necessarily noticed. I had good manners, was pleasant and cheerful, and generally well-regarded. But inside my head was a whole ‘nuther story.
Take bike riding, for instance.
Many adults, when they describe riding a bicycle, nearly always express how it brings them back to childhood. That carefree, summer-breeze-in-my-hair experience of exploring the neighborhood on two wheels. (The equivalent of barefoot Opie going to the pond to fish with his Pa in the opening credits of The Andy Griffith Show).
For me, however, memories of riding my bike are nothing short of traumatic. I managed fine as long as the street was flat and free of distractions (like people and cars). But rounding steep curves and – horror of horrors – going downhill, I ceded all power to The Bike God (who, apparently, did not approve of the application of brakes). And gravity being what it is, invariably I’d crash, fall, cry, and walk the bike back home, humiliated.
Over and over again.
And though a particular stretch of road never failed to dismount me, I never failed to pedal in that direction. Kind of like Sleeping Beauty enticed by the spinning wheel.
Yep, weird kid.
Speaking of gravity, I had an ongoing argument in third grade with a few kids because I was sure we were all living inside the earth. We had to be, otherwise we’d fall off into space, wouldn’t we? And globes (which were in every classroom in every grade of my school) never had any pictures or models of people and houses on their surface. Admittedly, I was too young to know about Isaac Newton and the laws of gravity, but geez … how did I explain the sky? And what were we, hobbits or something, living in Middle Earth?
Again – weird kid.
I should have come across information about Newton or gravity since I spent most of my summers in the public library. I’d pack a lunch, leave home around ten, and walk the five miles or so to the library. (This was in the days when kids were free to wander. And, for the aforementioned reasons, I did not ride my bike there). I wandered the bookshelves all day, reading “Nancy Drew,” “Little Women,” anything by Charles Dickens, and looking at magazines like “Life,” “Look”, and “National Geographic” in which I discovered photos of Uluru (Ayers Rock), embarking on a lifelong fascination with Australia. Exhausted, happy and hungry, I’d trudge back home.
I don’t know what other kids were doing. Probably socializing, forming long-lasting friendships, and setting the stage for responsible, productive adulthoods. Me – I was busy setting the stage for geekhood. After-school activities like Girl Scouts or sports? Oh no, not this girl. I planted myself in front of the television to watch whatever educational program was featured on PBS and, pen in hand, TOOK NOTES ON THE PROGRAM.
Yep, I took notes.
Yep, weird kid.