The kids made fun of me for my goofy smile.
(I had some serious dental issues). I kept trying to make friends with girls who reminded me vaguely of those I left behind. One girl on the bus I befriended because she reminded me of Joanie on Happy Days. I’d go to her house and we’d play chicken with the freight train then crawl underneath the tracks as it pummeled over us. (Very wholesome, indeed!)
We climbed in the rafters and jumped into dusty hay that may have been as old as the barn itself.
My mom and brother learned they had allergies. Hay fever.
We learned the difference between hay and straw; Cows and bulls; and heifers and calves; Jerseys and Holsteins. Things we could now simply Google.
My parents put a tire swing up in the barn—we’d hop on it from one of the lofts (I’ll never forget the old flattened dead cat we found up there), sometimes banging into the adjacent wall.
There was a creek that winded along a far edge of the property and we’d follow it as far as we could.
Once I saw a dead, bloated cow floating in a small pond, its black back shimmering and somewhat threatening—ominous looking and stained into my memory forever.
Some winters, there was enough snow that we could slide from the road down the side of the bridge to the frozen creek below. We wouldn’t go back inside until our fingers and toes were numb.
I missed being able to just walk or hop on my bike to find companionship and escape boredom.
It required more effort and coordination out there in Harvard and was less likely to happen. If I wanted to visit one of my new friends, a ride from my parents was required (oh, poor me) or I’d have to hop on a bike.
My friends in Arlington Heights were my life—I was always at someone’s house playing (at least that’s the story my memories tell) because they were right around the corner. Not miles out of reach.
On the farm, I was stuck with my two brothers. My older brother wasn’t really into “playing” with me. My little brother and I played occasionally and sometimes took to spying on my older brother which was, I have to admit, fun. Just like on Get Smart.