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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Same Gender Friendships, Scene 3

     Finally, the paved road came to an end and I was walking in the lovely shade of many trees. The afternoon heat was beating down on my head and, of course, my mother had been right, I would regret not taking a hat. I loved the scenery of this back-road route. I had biked this way many times over the years and this particular part of the route was my favorite. The fragrance of the lovely flowers was often broken up by the less-than pleasant odors of the grazing stock on the other side of the barbed-wire fences. Yet, I also loved to see the cows, sheep and whatever else was in the pastures as I passed. They usually looked up at me, probably wondering what in the world a pint-sized girl was doing out there all alone. I was delighted to talk to them and only wished I could understand what their moo’s and baa’s meant. I was lonely but kept going. Had to, really. No cell phones in those days!

     Once back on the paved road again, the sun’s rays were seriously intense. Fortunately, I still had water to drink but I would certainly be glad when this adventure was over! A glance at my watch told me I needed to do more than walk. I must have spent too long slowing down to talk to cows and I needed to catch up or I would not make the time limit my father had given me.

     “Honey, if you are not home in time to eat supper, I am coming after you. You need to eat before that babysitting job.” What had I been thinking? Babysitting after walking 50 miles in the summer heat? Why didn’t I listen to my parents? They said it would be too much after the hike but I would not listen. I wanted the money the job would bring, though I have no idea now just what it was that I was saving up to buy.

     I spent the next hour running 50 paces, walking 50 paces but found I had not made up enough time. I tried to run 100 paces and walk 100 paces but kept losing count. Okay, just walk as fast as you can, I told myself, though I was nearly too tired to even do that at this point.

     There it was, at last: the final turn before the cemetery! I was nearing the home stretch now. Just passed the cemetery and down the hill, around the corner and home was only two blocks away then. I could make it; I would make it! Passing the cemetery, I recalled the “bump” of the morning and heard another motor. I was on the opposite side of the road and the sound was coming towards me not behind me. In fact, it was a familiar vehicle. The huge smile worn by the driver let me know that, indeed, it was my father coming to fetch me. Looking down at my watch, I saw I had plenty of time to make it, if I didn’t eat supper. The car stopped alongside me and the window came down.

     “I’m a little bit early because I didn’t know how far I would have to drive to pick you up. I see you still have time to make it home and go babysitting. Would you prefer to just finish the walk or would you like to come home with me?” My father was still smiling and, honestly, I took a moment to think about his question. My feet had been burning for hours now; I had not taken into consideration that walking that way would make my feet swell. I had blisters on top of blisters. If I quit now, I would not have the 50 miles; I would be short a little more than one mile.

     “Sure, Daddy! I want to come home with you. What’s one mile anyway? I know I could do it and that’s good enough for me! Let’s go home!” I cannot begin to tell you how good I felt to sit in that car seat and feel the descent on that steep hill. Neither MJ nor I would have thought we would be riding down that slope when we were pressing our way up at sunrise… was it really just that morning?

     Well, you probably figured out what happened as soon as I took my shoes and socks off, right? I could not get them on again. I walked across the street to babysit four lively kids in swollen bare feet, gingerly taking each and every step. I lasted about an hour and a half before my precious mother rang the doorbell.

     “Go on home, Honey. I will watch the kids for you.” Sweeter words have never found my ears!

****Same Gender Friendships, Reflections… Coming Tomorrow

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