Big Bird

img_0606-2I wore a big, yellow, puffy winter coat in kindergarten. Since I was the tallest kid in class, my nickname was Big Bird. I liked Big Bird, so I didn’t mind.

Kids were running alongside the bus waving, smiling, crying, yelling “goodbye Big Bird!” as our bus drove to our stop one last time.

The kids made my sister and I feel famous!

We were leaving New Baltimore. Moving to Clawson.

We left our favorite friends, our favorite babysitter, and our memories.

The new house was big. Nice yard. We shared a room, even though we didn’t have to. Just because we were used to being together, and we liked it.

We made new friends, but they weren’t the same. They didn’t know the New Baltimore us. They only knew who they thought we were now.

We carried our old selves inside, hoping to meet people who would want to meet them.

The more people we met, including the new babysitter, the more we realized that we’d never be able to introduce our old selves to them.

So, we pulled them out when it was just the two of us. We created our New Baltimore world with the dolls, barbies, matchbox cars, and imaginary friends. We held onto it, so it wouldn’t fade away.

Mom bought us a dog.

He was great! Golden fur, happy, full of energy!

He loved us so much he’d dig holes and escape his fence just to be with us at the bus stop. It was so hard to get on that bus not knowing if he’d go back home. We waved to him and yelled to him, “We love you, now GO HOME!” as the bus drove away. He was back in the yard when we got home.

He must’ve loved that place because he tried to find his way back there when we moved to our new house in Rochester two years later. He wiggled right out of his collar and bolted. Never to be seen again.

Boomer went back to Clawson, I think, just like we went back to New Baltimore, in our minds.

The Clawson house changed us. We grew up faster than we wanted to.

There were some great memories there, and some not-so-great memories too.

The ones I cherish are: picking raspberries from Phylis Harding’s house. Making fudge and Christmas cookies. Playing on our new wooden swing set. Building forts on our new wooden swing set, and attempting to sleep in them, outside. Racing home on my pink Huffy bike so I could get money for the ice cream truck. Skidding across the pavement on my bare belly when I hit the curb with my bike tire. (I don’t cherish this memory, but it won’t leave me!) Learning that fresh hot tar under your feet causes pain! Blisters. Excruciating pain. (I do cherish this memory because it taught me to trust the warning signs!)

As I mentioned, we left Clawson two years later, and moved to Rochester.

We didn’t develop Clawson selves, so we didn’t struggle the same way.

Unfortunately, the New Baltimore world in our minds faded. We were in a new place, new people, new challenges.

Mom bought us a dog.

He was also golden, fluffy, and full of energy. He was our companion. One of us.

We made new friends again. Created cherished memories, grew up some more, and then said goodbye. To more than we knew at the time…

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