A few days ago, I set up the basketball hoop in the driveway. My kids and I played. Around the world. Horse and pig. It’s been all shitty weather since. Not an issue, but tiresome. This is living in Michigan. Cold, warm, sun, snow, rain, hail, a breeze, a blustery wind storm—all of it can happen in a day’s time.
This morning, we wake to a thin layer of wet snow on slush and ice. And no school. This is where I am reminded of being a kid, helping get our bus unstuck one winter day. Just a group of kids pushing on a big yellow bus on a backroad. We loved it. It was fun. Part of the everyday adventure of a kid living in the country. Not that the bus got stuck often, but growing up in the 70s and 80s in a rural area seemed to put people in situations they simply aren’t in today. Not better. Not worse. Just different.
We got the bus out. The driver was ecstatic. We were only a little late for school. Some of us dirty, some of us wet. All of us excited and proud of what we had done. That would never fly today. Our bus driver would have been crucified. She was one of the best, strongest, most independent people I’ve ever encountered in my life. Fierce. Funny. Took no bullshit. She hugged us. Asked about what was going on at school, at home. She brought treats to us. Presents. Even let us play our cassette tapes on the bus. But she also broke up fights, kicked kids off buses, and stopped drunk parents from stepping onto the bus to snatch their kids up and take them to God knows where. She was a good human. She made me feel safe, secure, and made going to and from school tolerable. Today, some fame junkie would have Instagrammed her into jail.
That’s what I think about while sipping coffee. Waking slowly. Moving from here—our life of comfort and stability—to my childhood. Growing up.
A snow day now would not be a snow day then. We wouldn’t sleep in, either. Already, my brothers and I would be dressing to get out in it. The snow. The cold. The new day of possibility. If we had a fancy portable basketball hoop like the one in our driveway, we’d shovel so we could play. But we didn’t have as many distractions. Information so ready at our fingertips.
These keys. Doing their trick. Pulling me back there. Into whatever it was. As if it was a life separate from the one I live now. And it’s not. I’m still there, playing in the snow with my brothers. Riding that school bus on good days and bad. And I’m here now. And I’ll be here tomorrow. And so will my kids.
This experience. It changes and rolls out and over us in ways we don’t always understand. We can’t know the value of what we’re in, it seems, until we’re out of it. So, I hope, my kids will write about their lives one day. That they will remember their snow days and relive their bus moments, whatever they may be.