We lived in the Euclid house. The elementary school was Lincoln. It was on Prospect Street. The school was about five blocks from home, almost all uphill. Up Central, up to the fountain on Broadway, and the weird connection of streets to the fountain, up to Oak, up to Euclid, up to home. That was my route. Every day. To school and back home.
That five blocks felt like a million. I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to make it. Why didn’t I just do it at school? Why didn’t I? My hands were full of stuff. I don’t know what stuff, but stuff. We didn’t have backpacks then, so whatever we brought home from school, we had to carry. As in our hands and arms, or in a brown paper grocery bag. More than likely it was books. I loved to read.
It was chilly out. I was wearing a hat. One of those odd, fuzzy ones that had long strings and pom poms on the ends of the strings. What the hell? Who would have made something like that, and why would I have worn it? That is totally not me. Not my style. Not my style even then. It must have been a hand-me-down. Had to be.
I think it was second grade. My favorite teacher, Mrs. Eklund’s class.
Maybe I was talking and messing around and had to hurry to get home. But why didn’t I just do it at school? Why didn’t I?
I left the school and was on my way home. Up the hill from Klein’s house. I crossed over to the other side, the top of the hill before taking a right up to the fountain, Broadway. I couldn’t stand it. It was getting painful. It was hard to even walk. I was struggling. I didn’t know what to do. I wanted to cry.
I stood there. I stood there for what felt like forever. In reality, it was maybe about 30 seconds, to a minute at most. There were kids still around. What could I do? There was no place to go. There was nothing I could do.
I stood there. I stood there and widened my feet. Everything hurt. I just couldn’t do it anymore, but still I tried not to. Time was up. My body was not cooperating. It was done. There was nothing else I could do to stop it. So, it happened. I wet my pants. I couldn’t hold it any longer. I couldn’t. I watched the pee run down the sidewalk. I was embarrassed. I felt like an idiot. I felt ashamed. I felt better. I felt way better. The pain was gone. Why didn’t I go at school? Why didn’t I?
I wondered if I was going to get in trouble. I couldn’t help it though. It was an accident. There was nothing I could do. Except there was. I could have been more responsible and gone before I started the five block trek home. But I didn’t.
The walk home seemed like forever with wet pants and embarrassment. As much embarrassment as a second grader can have. The memory is strong. The embarrassment is deep.