I was probably in my early teens – maybe 13 or so.
I had my bike and I was mobile.
In retrospect I was more mobile than I realized, and probably causing my parents ulcers.
We were living in Seattle at the time, literally across the street from Green Lake. Naturally when not in school I’d take advantage of that and would not only hop across the street to go swimming in the summer, but I’d also race my bike around the lake to see how quickly I could do it. In addition, the Woodland Park Zoo was just to the south, so heading out there semi-regularly was also a regular activity.
But … it wasn’t enough.
Over time I became interested in Seattle, its history, the transit system, and more. As a result it wasn’t uncommon for me to take the bus downtown to go exploring in Seattle’s older districts, as well as ride my bike all over the city to check out parks and other landmarks.
On my bike.
Before the days of mobile phones.
And for the locals that might remember the difference, it was before those “older districts” were cleaned up and turned into the tourist venues that they are today.
I was away from home for hours, exploring all this on my own. Honest, it was wonderful, and I developed a level of self-confidence that I don’t think I would have come to any other way.
In retrospect I can’t imagine what my parents — my mother in particular — might have been going through. She cared, deeply, but she also knew that independance and self-sufficiency were important characteristics to develop, and one way that they would develop was by exercise. I can only imagine her worry.
But, out I went, not knowing any better, and benefiting from the experience.
Was the world somehow “safer” or “better” then than now? I think not. Just the opposite, I suspect, though many will say otherwise. But that’s not the point. The point is that my parents allowed me the freedom to be independent when they could just as easily have wrapped their only child in a protective cocoon.
They let me learn and grow, on my own.
And for that, I am grateful.
Photo: a stock photo of Seattle’s Pioneer Square area, the “older district” looking significantly more cleaned up and presentable than it did in the days when I rode my bike or took the bus to visit it.