I always got a ride to and from elementary school, which would’ve been too far to walk even if I’d been old enough to do it on my own. My mother might’ve drove me there most mornings; I remember her being there the time I was too shy to come to the door when the girl I had a romantic crush on held it open for me in kindergarten or first grade; but I think it was my grandmother who usually drove me home. She’d pick me up in that old gray car with the brown vinyl seats. I still remember the way that car used to smell and everything. The only time I remember my mother picking me up was right after our senior trip to Boblo, which might’ve been my very last day at elementary school.
Middle school was close enough for me to walk, so I walked there in the morning and back home on most days. I was nervous about it at the beginning; especially after seeing my friend Morrell getting beat-down by a group of boys; but I quickly got used to it. In fact, while I wouldn’t go as far as to say it’s something I enjoyed doing, it’s something I didn’t mind doing. It was certainly more of a leisure than a burden; except for the day I got sucker-punched by a gang of bullies. The kid walking ahead of me took-off running when he saw them coming, but I was too clueless to follow. Then there was the time Chantel Beasley; another (light-skinned) girl I had a secret crush on; tried to bulley me with a gang of her (girl) friends.
Starting in the seventh or eighth grade, I’d actually started walking home with my best friend Derrel. We’d walk down Conant together until we got to Six Mile, which I guess was about half-way, then go our separate ways. I remember the day we stopped to have a wrestling match for the imaginary, and real-life, federation we ran at the school; much to the entertainment of the two boys who stopped to watch us. One of them said, with a laugh and a smile, that he could tell I was The Undertaker by the way I lifted the lid to the garbage can as if it were a coffin. In fact, I think I beat Derrel that day; by his own decision, since we never really wrestled to pinfall.
My brother, or half-brother, Tobe picked me up the day either Henry or Eugene Childrey; a troublesome kid who apparently grew-up to be a troublesome adult; hit me in the eye with what I assume was a flying paper clip or something similar. I clearly remember being in the office when the secretary started laughing at the fact that my brother had arrived to pick me up on a bicycle. Tobe drove Derrel home one day too; the day Derrel slipped and almost fell getting out of the ride. It was so funny. My mother picked me up on some days though, in her minivan. I remember my friend James seeing her and making comments that suggested he was sexually attracted to her.
Other middle school highlights include schoolmates laying down in the middle of the street and jumping up to startle on-coming traffic, the aftermath of a lump-headed boy who’d just gotten hit by a car, a trench-coated smoker named Frank who used to walk me to school sometimes, walking to school with a boy who claimed to have a gun in his pants, being stopped and held at gunpoint by police officers who claimed I fit the description of someone who’d reportedly just committed an offense; a scare eyewitness Eugene Childrey, of all people, asked me about later that day; and Tobe driving me and Johnny Williams to school to Spice 1’s Fuckin Murderer song.
I attended a few different high schools; each of which presented me with different ways to get to and from school. Walking to and from my first and primary high school, which I did on most days, was something I sort of liked. Though the trip was about the same mile-plus distance as middle school, it was certainly a better experience; perhaps because I was older and had gotten so used to walking. It was also less dangerous, or at-least seemed to be, as bullies and such had more-or-less become a thing of the past. One thing I often did to past the time was rap (freestyle) to myself, in my mind, to imaginary beats. That’s actually something I’d started doing in middle school. It just became more of a tradition in high school.
I can remember getting rides to and from that high school only a few times. My uncle Gabe took me the time I needed a parent or guardian to get me back in after I got suspended, my Big Brothers mentor Richard Renfro picked me up in his gold Lexus on at-least one occasion; perhaps the time he stopped by to get some books from Mister Kidney; and my art teacher took me home one day. Of course, I’d walk on most days. And I’d usually walk alone. But I did start walking with friends like Michael, Derek, Sabrina and Joi toward the end; at-least as far as we could before splitting-off in different directions.
My other high schools, which I attended for comparatively short amounts of time, gave me a break from all that walking. Well, I usually walked home when I stayed with my aunt in Mississippi. But she usually or always drove me there; along with my nieces, who she’d drop-off first. I remember the time she cussed-out some little girl’s mother for cutting off a piece of one of my neice’s hair. I also remember the time I lost my house keys. My aunt yelled at me in the car nonstop, until her distractive yelling almost caused us to get into a car accident.
The only time I ever rode the yellow school bus in elementary or middle school was when we went on the occasional field trip, and I never rode it in high school, but I rode the regular DDOT/Smart bus to and from two of the four high schools I attended. One of them I only enrolled in for the summer to make-up credits for another school. The other, which I had to catch two buses for, is the school Miss Sanneh drove me and some of my classmates home from the day she treated us to dinner at Hellas in Greektown. It’s also the school Morrell used to give me rides from sometimes. He didn’t know about the time I saw him getting beat-up in middle school and kept walking.
Do I miss going to school and going home from school as a kid and a teen? Well, yes; I generally do; especially going home from school, which was usually better in a relieving sort of way. But I only miss it because I miss school; which, for better or worse, would not have been the same without those daily trips.