When I was small my roaming range was limited to home and primary school, but gradually I was given more freedom. At 11 I would get on my BMX and ride down to the milk-bar for a Cadbury’s Snack (my favourite flavour was pineapple; I tolerated coconut ice).
On my bike I was intrepid, riding as far as the creek, or to friends’ houses, or to the spreading almost-built estates. When I rode my bike I sang. I like to picture myself at that age: singing and standing on my pedals, like nothing was better than being alive, in possession of chocolate and zooming through a landscape.
At 13 my range widened again. Now I was allowed to catch public transport, mostly with my sisters, but sometimes alone. The fun wore off fairly quickly. I was a lazy girl who liked a lift. We lived in the sticks and it seemed like I spent many useless hours on public transport – I hadn’t yet learnt to kill time by reading.
If looking at the other passengers disturbed (why did grown-ups always look so worn out?) looking out the window wasn’t much better. The scenery never changed, and I felt similarly static.
In year 9, I changed schools – now my commute encompassed walking, buses, trains and trams. This ‘‘widening’’ was external but it was internal as well. I didn’t consciously sit myself down and ask, ‘‘Hey, who do you want to be now?’’ but unconsciously the question churned.