Sixth grade was a transition year, children were influenced more by their peers and struggled with acceptance. I wasn't immune. Any school trip was an exciting diversion from the daily schedule of drills and assignments. We were headed to Bellingrath gardens outside of Mobile, AL and the gulf coast to experience shrimping and other nautical pursuits. School trips always meant pre-sunrise departures. My mother had been up even earlier preparing a brown bag of snacks and the required packed lunch, making sure I had a bowl of hot instant oatmeal (I always preferred cinnamon & spice), and double checking my carry-on bag for all the items on the check-list. The street lights had an even greater glow as I rested my head against the chill of the passenger seat window glass. My mom was telling me where to find my envelope of 'trip' money and permission slip to turn in once we reached the school parking lot, but my mind was taking in the sparkle of lights in the pre-dawn sky.
We arrive early, usually we're the ones running late, and see just 2-3 other cars waiting in the dimly lit parking lot. We follow their lead and stay in our car waiting for any signs of a chaperone or official guide to give us our next step. The touring bus has not yet arrived. Sensing we forgot something, my mom begins double checking the contents of my tote. As she turns to me, the satisfied expression quickly fades and her eyes widen as her mouth drops and she exclaims, "Where are your glasses?" I quickly reach up to the bridge of my nose and realize I'm not wearing them. All those sparkling, glittery lights I marveled at on the ride over were actually a cascade of refractions from my advanced astigmatism and near-sightedness. The calm in my mother quickly morphed into panic and action. She's tossing my bag, ordering me to jump out of the car, follow her to the nearest car, and waves her hands in the air to get the attention of the groggy parent two spots over. As she explains she must return home to retrieve my glasses, she asks permission to plop me in their car until she can return. They agree and a door opens to beckon me to enter.
I don't really recall whose car I sat in or what transpired. But, my mother returned just as the bus pulled in and now there were well over 15 cars waiting to deliver their 6th graders into that vessel. All was better. My vision restored, it was time to set out on an adventure of exploration and discovery.