The first time I got lost on Van Dyke road, I was 6 years old. I rode my flowered banana seat bike to the “North End” – the undeveloped area north, (I’m guessing, I had no sense of direction) of our house. It was, I suppose, just a gravel pit and a bit of a swamp, but not in my imagination. It was unknown, undiscovered, so certainly it contained danger in various forms of “North End” creatures.
I was free to ride my bicycle on Van Dyke road. There was no traffic. Front doors were unlocked. Parents of all kinds were in shouting distance. We didn’t announce when going outside of the house, we just went.
As the gravel got looser, my wheels dug in deeper, and so did my thoughts. If I got stuck here, would anyone find me? Would anyone look? Did they know I was gone? What was lurking behind that tree – for surely things did not live here, but lurk. My heart beat faster and I turned and spun and wait, not this way, there’s water, that’s not right, round again, where is the road??? My cheeks were getting hotter in the cool spring air. I had no watch, but the hands on my heart’s clock spun faster and faster.
And then I heard a familiar noise. A garage door. Opening. Shutting. (I wasn’t that far from the last neighbor on the road.) I rode towards it. The sound that led me home was so small. Perhaps that is the way with all mercies.
My mom was on the phone. The curly cord reached from the back door, through the garage, into the driveway. She smiled and waved without breaking conversation. I waved back. Time stood still. I was home.