2 On My Own
On My Own

When I was three years old my parents moved from the northern town of Cheboygan, Michigan to a house in Ann Arbor owned by Nana, my paternal grandmother. Shortly after we moved in, with unpacked boxes still lining the front hall, my mother awoke from an afternoon nap to see several neighbors coming up the front walk—a -welcoming party, she thought, not realizing I had left the house on my own wearing only an undershirt, and was busy pushing my baby buggy down the sidewalk.

The next summer, after I turned four, my parents put me, unaccompanied, on an -airplane to fly north to stay with Nana at her cottage. (Later I learned my mother suffered five miscarriages in the six years after I was born.) I remember being dressed in my best Sunday clothes. I remember wool seats scratching my bare legs and a straw basket of Chiclets™ passed through the cabin by the stewardess. I remember, when we disembarked at Pellston, sitting on a molded plastic chair in the airport lobby for so long that I watched as the crew left the plane. But I don’t remember being scared or even aware of the fact that my grandmother had forgotten to pick me up. Being an adventurous solo pioneer was already normal for me.