I've lived in the same house since I was five. We moved across town so my older brother and I wouldn't share a room anymore. The new house seemed huge to a 3'9" toe headed girl. I could camp out in my walk-in closet or crawl through the caves within the kitchen cabinet doors. Bobsledding down the staircase on a gymnastics mat was as great as the giant yard and cornfields used to hunt the Corn People.
My upstairs room changed from baby pink to smurf blue and white to its current sky blue and lime green. Each change required throwing junk out, rearranging furniture and, of course, the bickering between mother and daughter. Walking out of my room across the hall led me to my bathroom.
I shared the bathroom with my big brother -- and then a few years later, my little brother too. The blue fishy shower curtain matched the fishy rug I stood on each morning and night to use my toothbrush that rested in its fishy toothbrush cup. As we grew, the fishy rug faded and the fishy curtain looked "stupid," my brothers said. (I, however, loved each fish and had established a friendship with every one of them.)
At my disapproval, I had to say goodbye. A striped curtain replaced my friends, and the rugs swam to a hiding place in the back of the laundry room. Our elementary fish drawings found new walls to hang on, and Mom hung random memorabilia on the old nails.
Four months ago, I wouldn't have been able to tell you what hung on those nails, one by the doorway and another above the toilet I sat on every day of my life.
But last week as I drug bag after bag of tshirts and dresses I hardly wear to to my room to house for this summer, my bladder wanted to punch me. It pierced my lower abdomen, yelling "That's what you get for consuming three water bottles on the drive home."
I skipped -- if you could call it a skip -- maybe an awkward lunge-gallop-run. I lunged-galloped-ran to my toilet, the toilet I've known since I was five. The bathroom hadn't changed at all. It was cleaner than when I lived at home due to my little brother's obsessive compulsive behaviors, but the walls and towels were unchanged. Same color scheme since high school, same pictures on the walls. Before I could sit down, my eyes scanned the "random memorabilia" above the toilet that had hung there since we forced the fishies out.
In a red frame, cyclists zoomed toward me. I wondered if any of them had to pee when the photo was taken as badly as I did at that moment. The bottom of the photo said Little 500. The poster was older than I, from the years when my dad had raced. It had hung in the family room for years before it transferred to above my toilet.
I'd always ignored it.
Until I moved home last week, I never paid that picture any attention.
I sat on the toilet to release my bladder from its agony, but my eyes began to trickle first. I rode in the Little 500. The race I'd heard stories about and seen Daddy's scars from -- now I could share stories and show off my scars. Like a home toilet that wasn't missed until I moved out of the house, I didn't realize what the race meant to me until after it was over. I don't think anyone who doesn't participate fully understands the way it changes you.
I'm a part of the largest college week in a way very few understand. If it weren't for us, the week wouldn't exist. If it weren't for those first participants in 1951, I wouldn't be able to cry on my toilet from viewing a poster on the wall.
It's a tradition, a legacy and a blast.
And I'm a small fraction of that!