Down the trail of the bumpity roadApril 30, 2012
It was a stretch of sidewalk in front of the house where the concrete had not cured properly. Most of the cement binding the strip together was crumbling, leaving thousands of tiny pebbles and flaking, chalky limestone deposits. It was a hazard. It was a mess. It was a trail to imagination.
We called it the bumpity road.
It was a road as surely as the two lane road running parallel to it was a road, but it was for smaller vehicles and smaller people. Adults didn’t like those stretches of the sidewalk because the pebbles and powdery limestone deposits were slip and trip hazards. The hazards started and stopped in front of our house and the neighbors’ houses for two blocks.
We ran up and down the bumpity road in front of our house when we were too young to leave the yard, and ran its entire two block length as we grew older. We wiped out with our bikes and our bodies and we dented fenders, sprung wheel spokes, and scraped knees, elbows, and hands.
We were ogreish toll takers, sea captains, jailers, warriors, crusaders, construction workers and even popcorn vendors when we turned tricycles upside down and, spinning the large front wheel with our hands working the pedals, dropped the tiny bumpity road pebbles over the tire and into the fender to make a rock and metal racket, with pebbles flying in all directions.
We traveled the world on the bumpity road before we left its length for new horizons. At the eastern end was the first school we attended. Beyond that school by a few blocks were other schools where we completed junior high and high school, from which we graduated to new forms of learning. At the western end of the bumpity road was the highway, where we spent our first nervous days driving, found our first jobs and spent our first coffee dates in various restaurants. From the highway we graduated to the world of responsibility.
The bumpity road launched us into worlds we dreamed of inhabiting. Fearless on our treks down the hazardous trail, we reached the end and then moved into the next trek as our next logical step.
I haven’t yet reached the end of the trail on which I embarked when I left the bumpity road, and there have been occasions when I have stumbled or felt lost. It is during those times that I remember the crumbly, bumpity trail and realize, though the road wasn’t solid when I was a child, I survived it and am still here, only slightly worse for wear.
The bumpity road and our travels just beyond made us tough. From scuffed knees, elbows, hands and hearts, we learned that the wounds from bumpity roads are temporary. We heal, and move on.