THE LONG WAY HOME
March 19, 2015
By Audrey Fraizer
The young man on the cover is my son.
He is a 28-year-old mix of wonder and pluck who believes all jets passing overhead are flying to Disneyland or Phoenix (Ariz.), where his sister lives, and that all buses and trains he boards will arrive at where he’s going.
Several years ago, he discovered this wasn’t true, at least about the buses.
It was a workday and the alarm on his watch went off, signaling the end of his four-hour shift at a Mexican restaurant. He clocked out, put on his sweatshirt, slung his backpack over his shoulder, and made a hasty retreat to the bus stop.
I can imagine him going about this routine. He follows a set of cautiously rehearsed steps in everything he does. Routine is his margin of safety and, also, mine in developing his independence.
He was moving in the accustomed pattern when, as I was later told, a new supervisor caught up to offer assistance. They walked to the bus stop, a bus arrived, she helped him board, and watched the bus depart. He took a seat up front.
I assume my son counted the stops and when at the number associated with his stop, he went to the door and waited for the bus to pull over. He stepped out but not into a place he recognized. I can imagine his confusion and panic. This was not the right street, this was not the right corner, and he can’t find his way back home.
All ended happily thanks to several helping hands, including those of the 9-1-1 dispatcher, police officer, and my husband’s work crew. He was dropped off at home, sensibly popped open a pudding cup, and, I assume, rolled his eyes hearing a car come to a screeching halt in the driveway. It’s her again, interrupting a perfectly fine afternoon snack.
“You’re home, sweetie. You’re safe.”
The mistake was honest, unintentional. My son trusts the decisions people make for him. He trusts that a person—in this case an authority type—walking him to a bus will make sure he is boarding the right bus. The supervisor probably figured that he would have shaken his head “no” if it wasn't the right one.
She didn’t ask. He didn’t object.
The line I walk is protective and, yet, considerate of his abilities. His line is measured and drawn to accommodate his life. He can believe that all planes fly to Disneyland or Phoenix, just as long as our two separate lines connect securely at the end of each day.