In the country, where I started out, I was kept on a really tight lead: my folks bought into the idea of lecherous truckers with candy and cute little girls at risk--it was drummed into me that you never never talked to strangers. If I went anywhere, it was in the company of an adult.
The transition for a soon to be 9 year old girl was incredible. I must admit, I spent half my time lost in a school that had 1000 kids (four times as many kids as the pop. of the town I came from) or trying to find the Principal's office, or learning city rules vs. country rules, but still...
In the city I acquired two bands of girlfriends, and I became a marauding, wide ranging kid, all over the streets, I had shortcuts to the library, the church, the school...god help people's lawns, lol--on Saturday I would disappear after breakfast and not surface until nearly supper time, just in time for Roy Rogers. Never once did my mother quiz me (and a good thing too) about my day, she seemed blithely unconcerned. Not speak to strangers? my GFs and I spent all one summer making and selling potholders, door to door, 2 for a quarter. We cleaned up. If we'd had baby sisters or brothers we'd have peddled them too.
That was where I learned to ride a bike, and that, surprisingly, was limited to our parking lot (we lived in an apartment) and never on the street.
When we returned to NH the clamp came down again, but now I could ride the bike anywhere I wanted, even to school, 8 miles away. Go figure.
I never had another bike and by the time I was 15 or 16 it was just too much effort to haul me and the bike up our steep hills so I became a walker. But the difference in attitude was stunning.
Those two years in the city were, as a kid, two of the happiest and scariest years of my growing up. I wept when we moved back here...=) sometimes I wonder what might have happened if we had stayed: obviously there's no way of knowing, or even guessing, but I would not be the me I am now. That much is clear. What is also clear, I have no regrets. Right time, right place. No regrets