I love childhood memories.
And I especially love those memories that are attached to my older sister, Autumn. Having a sister has definitely made growing up so much more fun, although there were many times that I thought I hated her and wished I never had a sister.
But I never meant it. Most of the time. My sister has grown to be my best friend.
When we were kids, we used to ride the bus to school every day. (Up until they rezoned the bus routes and we had to ride Coach Sherrill’s bus instead of Ms. Elrod’s bus, and we were instantly transformed into ‘car riders.’) For a long time, we even sat together. As a child, I felt as if she protected me from all the evils on the bus.
And oh, were there evils on the bus.
After a little while, we had assigned seating on the bus. And it was awful. I remember sitting in the back half of the bus while the high school girls used to talk about things that would make my third-grade ears burn. And on those frightening days when my sister was sick or for some reason didn’t ride the bus, I had to face it all alone.
Oh, the bus.
But I digress.
Every morning, my sister and I would rise from our bunk beds (which were later disconnected and placed side by side), get dressed, eat a quick breakfest (for Autumn, a raw hot dog; for me, a strawberry Pop-Tart with no icing), grab our lunches and go wait for our bus.
I remember on one fateful morning, around 645 or 700, we were standing, waiting. After a moment or two of pensive thought while staring at the ground, my sister turned to me.
“Look at that rock,” she said, pointing to it with her toe. “It looks like a penguin.”
I squinted, careful not to drop my fluorescent pink Tupperware lunchbox. “Really?” The rock looked like a teapot to me.
“Yeah,” she said, almost daring me to challenge her.
And since she was almost five years my senior and everything she said to me was gospel, I nodded my head. “You are so right.”
Not to be left out and desperate for my sister to think I was cool, I quickly scanned the ground and found a rock that was pretty much like all the others, rounded and ovally-shaped, perfectly smooth and protruding from the ground.
“Whoa, look at this one,” I said, tapping it with my foot.
Autumn leaned closer, then asked, “Yeah? What is it?”
“It looks like a whale,” I said proudly, obviously pleased with my find.
“Which part looks like the whale?” Apparently she was not convinced.
I knelt down and ran my fingers along the smooth, arced surface. “Right here. It looks like a whale’s back.”
My sister scoffed, and I straightened back up. Then she said, “I know what we should do. We should stand on our rocks every single day while we wait for the bus. And one day, the kids on the bus will start to notice that we stand in the exact same spot every day, and they’ll wonder how we do it. No one will know that we have these rocks to hold our places. I’ll bet even the bus driver will notice.”
When she got finished talking, she smiled and assumed her position on top of her rock, the penguin-slash-teapot. Ever the dutiful little sister, I stood on top of my whale-rock, waiting for the bus to come and take us away.
And so we did, every morning, for the rest of that school year.
I kept waiting and waiting for some one to notice, flashing a knowing smile at my sister as we climbed aboard our yellow chariot.
“How do you two do it,” they would ask. “How do you stand in the exact same spot, every single day?”
No one ever did.