Memories make up our day to day lives. Remembering a look of great thanks you get from someone you give a buck to, or the beauty of pogo nip that makes you hold your breath so it doesn’t melt as you get up real close to a winter beaten flower stem to look at the beauty of the delicate ice crystals. Yes until a last cognitive breath, memories are wonderfully there filed away in your gray matter.
Sometimes our memories crisscross just reminding me the more we differ, the more we are the same. Well here is a thing that I do related to memories. I was amazed to find, when I mentioned it, I am not the only one that does this.
Nobody has a perfect life, unscathed from being run over by your sister on a bike, or getting a spanking or a good smack for talking back, or getting a bee sting because you didn’t listen and got off the porch and ran barefoot through the clover where the honey bees were… No we all have some of those remembrances. But bringing them back to you in living color, vivid and almost touchable memories really happens when, as an adult, you drive by your childhood home. Come on now, admit it, you’ve done this. Haven’t you?
I’ll admit that not all childhood memories are filled with tulips and cotton candy. Learn from those but don’t dwell. Instead revel in the good stuff. That’s what happens when I just happen to, (okay on purpose) drive by my childhood family home in a town where I haven’t lived for over 40 years.
First I tell myself I won’t go there. Even as I drive by Stewart Park and turn off of Wells Avenue and go down Stewart Street where I used to ride my bike “Tornado,” fast enough to give my mother palpations. I tell myself I’m just using Stewart Street to get to the next place I have to go while I am in town. Not because it will take me right to the street where I used to live.
I cross an intersection and look down to the house where my best friend lived. I stop at the stop sign on the corner where a fire burned down a home of another friend. That family moved away after that night and I never again saw the boy who lived there. He was in my class and I can still see his face. I hope he got over the fire and had a great life. That lot was vacant for years and finally, this time, there is an office building there.
I travel down the hill towards the street where I lived and I just give in to the fact that I want to see our old house again. It’s like wanting a steak, not that you want one every night, just every so often you crave one. Then as I turn onto my street, my “memory lane,” I find myself smiling like the giddy school girl who lived on this short one block making mud pies, playing hopscotch and jacks on the sidewalk.
Why do we do this? What do we expect to happen? Will the neighbors from years ago suddenly step out of the neighboring houses, see us and holler, “Welcome back!”? That would just be too weird. Weird but cool.
I don’t find that I want to visit the house we lived in when I was a teenager as much as I want to see this house. The house we lived in when I was a kid. A true kid. A free spirit without any trappings that seem to bind us as we become those all-important solid citizens who never seem to have time to just roll in the grass and drink from the hose.
Okay, I’m on “the block” and nervous. I didn’t used to be nervous, but in this day and age I can’t stop, park and just look without making the residents nervous about stranger danger. That’s too bad, as I am not a stranger. I lived here first. I knew the old lady across the street used to spy on us kids by peeking through her curtains. It was this house, on the front lawn that my friend and I played in the sprinkler when I cut my wrist with a bottle we were using to throw water on each other with. And I rub at the scar. This house where my dad turned the garage into a family room and built the floor to ceiling fireplace with the marble hearth where I found the last Easter basket I received waiting for me. Nope, I’m not a stranger to this neighborhood. I’m just a memory.
Again, weird but cool.