I spent a perfectly wonderful afternoon yesterday with my husband, my cousin Debbie and her 24-year old son at Fenway Park in Boston. It was a great game. The Sox won. Tampa Bay lost to the Yankees… if you are keeping track of the standings in the American League East, you know that this is music to the ears of a Red Sox fan.
We all met up at my Uncle’s house in Boston and took one car to the 20-minute drive to Fenway. On the way, Debbie and I reminisced about the time we spent in Boston together as young girls. Debbie lived in New Hampshire (she still does), and I lived in Rhode Island (I still do). Our mothers are sisters. For many summers, our parents allowed us to stay with our Nana Burke in the city for weeks at a time. These weeks formed some of my best and most precious memories.
Most of the memories are fun and wholesome and innocent. Because we both lived in the suburbs, being in the city was something of a marvel. An exciting and exhilarating marvel. Each morning, our Nana would make us a huge breakfast, then we would be let loose to explore. We usually walked up and down the streets near Nana’s home, or hiked a couple of miles to visit our aunt (our mother’s youngest sister) and uncle and their two little children, or headed to one of the local neighborhood swimming pools.
But one day, we were feeling a little more adventurous, and we decided to head to a shore-side amusement park that we were sure was a little hop, skip and jump subway-ride away. Well, it wasn’t.
But this is how the day went.
We carefully checked out the Subway “Lines” that would bring us to the park. There were several Lines, all different colors… orange, blue, green, etc. I don’t remember all the details, but we kind-of pointed to where we wanted to go and off we went, tokens and quarters and everything we needed for the day. Did we know that we were heading into big trouble? No. But I must tell you here that we were both 12 years old. Yes. 12.
Are you still reading?
What seemed like hours later, we were having the greatest time of our young lives. There was a huge roller coaster, an arcade, all kinds of twirling rides, interesting people, and the shore. We ate hot dogs. We sat on the beach. We drank soda. We played Skee Ball and won tons of “tickets” to buy wonderful little plastic things. We ate some more.
Then we noticed something. It was getting dark. We would not be home for supper that night.
But we didn’t panic. We knew we would just have to retrace our “Lines,” get home and suffer the consequences of being late. Well, two of those were true. The “suffer the consequences” part was not gonna happen… because we never got into trouble with Nana.
So off we headed to the Line. We dug into our pockets for the right fare only to discover that we had no money. None.
Remember… I was 12 years old. I am now 56. It was 44 years ago. No cell phones. Coin operated public phones. We had no money. But still we did not panic. We actually asked people for money. Everyone said no. Teenagers. Elderly people. Even parents with kids.
Then we hit what we considered the jackpot. A couple of guys drove by in a car and must have seen someone saying no to our money request. They did not offer money… they offered to drive us home.
And yes… cringe and faint and hold your breath… we both got into their car. All we could think about is how nervous Nana was going to be when we were not home for dinner. They were nice. They asked us how old we were. Where we lived. About our schools and our lives.
Could this have been my last ride? Debbie’s last ride?
I have never thought of this ride again without shuddering. On the way to Nana’s, we both realized what a stupid thing we had done. And we prayed. We sat in the back seat and held hands and whispered prayers to each other.
Well, we should have prayed a bit more.
These guys did, by some miracle, bring us to our Nana’s house. Maybe they realized how terrified we were. Maybe they were just nice guys. I will never know.
But the terror had just begun. Our Nana had called our uncle. Our uncle had called our parents. We were already in deep @#*% for not being home for supper. But for Nana and Uncle Bob to see two guys drive up to my Nana’s home… in the dark of a summer night… and watch in horror as we crawled from the back seat and the car sped away. Well, you can only imagine.
Flash ahead to yesterday as Debbie and I reminisced. There are many, many things that make us laugh… but that is not one of them. Yes, we were in BIG trouble… and one of our punishments was to be sent home to our respective homes in New Hampshire and Rhode Island. That broke our hearts more than is imaginable.
But the pain we caused our Nana? We loved our Nana. We thought we had broken her heart. With worry. Fear. The worst pain.
It is funny that Debbie and I were talking about all of these things yesterday… and then this morning I visited my BFF at Running From the Little People. She posted about strangers and Intruder Drills at school and the world we live in. And I guess the bottom line will always be the same… you can never be too careful or too prepared or too informed when it comes to our most precious children.
Hug them today… BIG time. And continue to talk about strangers. My experience got me into a lot of trouble, but it didn’t cost me or my cousin our lives. It could have.