Leaving the Cocoon

Safely in the cocoon with my big sister Barbara – late 1960s

Summer in the Waiting Room: Faith • Hope • Love

Chapter 4: Leaving the Cocoon

 I was about four years old and playing in the front yard. Those were the days when parents didn’t seem worried that their kids were running around in front of the house. I remember playing on the grass and eyeing the old two-toned orange-and-white Ford Mercury sitting in the narrow one-car driveway, thinking about driving just like my dad. As the car sat majestically in the driveway, I thought about how strong and important I would look behind the wheel. When I noticed my mom had left the kitchen window, probably to go to the refrigerator to take food out for dinner, I darted to the car and struggled to open the heavy driver’s side door. I then jumped onto the bench seat behind the steering wheel and started off on my imaginary road trip.

As I spread my arms wide to maneuver the big round steering wheel, I strained my neck as high as I could so that my little head peeked over the dashboard to see the road ahead. Eyeing the gearshift on the steering column, I was ready to kick into high gear just like my dad would do to send this big hunk of metal roaring down the highway. There was just one problem. Our driveway sat on a slight incline. As I grabbed the gearshift to make my move, the car started moving—backward!

The car rolled back slowly off the driveway until it came to a complete stop in the middle of the street. I sat in the car, not sure what to do next. My mom screamed from the kitchen window and dashed out the front door to save her baby boy. My dad stood on the front lawn laughing. This may have been the first indication that I was willing to take a risk to get what I wanted. This was my life in the cocoon at 48 Viewmont Avenue. I was lucky to have others around to keep the neighborhood safe and secure. 

When I started junior high school in the sixth grade, I realized that the world outside Viewmont Avenue wasn’t very safe. I was the target of an eighth-grade bully who would hide behind a post or a wall at school and jump in front of me to keep me from getting to class on time. After being marked tardy a few times, I figured that I better do something about it, or I would be in trouble with the school and with my parents.

Preparing for my confrontation, I rallied the neighborhood kids to be at my side so my chances of surviving would be better off, especially if I ended up on the losing end of the battle. The next day at school, as expected, the bully jumped out from behind a wall and started toward me. I was scared and nervous but prepared myself for the first scuffle of my life outside the roughhousing I took from Stevie from time to time. When the bully saw that my defenses had suddenly multiplied, he backed off quickly and ran the other way. I learned from that adventure outside the cocoon. Walking to school and class with a few friends every day became a good habit. I dodged a bullet, but my days in the protective cocoon of Viewmont Avenue would come to an end sooner or later.

Next Time ~ Chapter 5: Hail Spartans Hail…

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