As I kid, I always loved going to fairs and it didn’t matter if it was a state fair, county fair, a fair in the mall parking lot. I was obsessed with the food, the smells, the rides, everything about fairs had me hooked. I begged my parents to take me whenever there was a fair nearby and sometimes they did, but more often than not, I had to ride my bike. I never felt unsafe because I always knew that when I was at a fair, I was with my people.
I loved fairs until the night I managed to fall asleep at the fairgrounds and wake up when everyone was gone. All the lights were turned out and when I went to fetch my bike from behind the trees where I hid it, it was already gone. I knew it would take me at least forty five minutes to walk home and that was when I was wearing actual sneakers. With the sandals I had on, it would probably take me longer. As I walked, I listened. I had never been more aware of the noises that accompanied the growing darkness.
The more I listened, the more aware I became of how small and vulnerable I was. The closer I came to home, my pace quickened. When I ran in the front door, my parents hadn’t even noticed I was still gone. I now knew I had to make sure I could take care of myself.