I was four days shy of my 10th birthday when I first realized what it was that I needed more than anything in the world.
I sat in my fourth grade classroom listening to Mrs. Johnson explain to me the crucial importance of not writing outside the margins and the, not to be taken lightly, serious necessity of dotting your “I’s”, while I dreamily gazed out the window. Bobby was sitting on a bench near the handball courts. He was sent there after he threw chalk at Sue Ellen for calling her “four eyes.” It was a perfect California day and Bobby gets to be in it while I had to listen to Mrs. Johnson drone on and on about punctuation.
And he was the one being punished?
I look at the clock. 10:45 am. Fifteen minutes to freedom. The only thing that kept me alive back then. The only thing that made it all worthwhile.
The bell rang and we neatly and uniformly BOLTED out the door to the open space. The orchestra of children laughing and the serenity of the the knowledge that the grown-ups were now on the side-lines and not in our face, was enough to bring any kid into a perfect state of bliss.
My first real kiss was behind the handball court.
My first black eye was on the softball field.
And my first victory was playing tetherball.
The only place I could breathe was on the playground.
I learned so much during that grammar lesson.
I learned that I rather write outside the margins and that