Monday, March 26, 2007

On the street where you use to live. . .

This past Friday, I was home for a QUICK retail therapy trip and visited the old neighborhood. It was strange driving through Hampton. Although it has changed, there is still that familiar feeling driving through the streets. There were new buildings, new stores, and even new streets but really nothing much has changed. It is still the same suburban town trying to bust open at the seams, trying for that big city feel but falling short. I have to say I kinda liked it more years ago before they tried filling in all the empty space with stupid chains and fancy buildings.

But that is not the point of this blog.

As I drove into my old neighborhood I passed many familiar sights, . . the 7-11 where Beans (Sara) and I digested enough big bites to clog our arteries for life . . I still remember when they added the "new" (now old section) to that shopping center. We were soooo excited at the opening of the "Yogurt Stop", where you could get a pack of 5 Now&Laters for 5 cents, or the laundry mat that I use to go play arcade games at. I still remember feeling so cool that I was allowed to ride my bike up there all by myself. Oh the simple pleasures of youth. As I turned into "The Mill", as so many of my old friends called it, I was struck by the thought something was missing. I drove past my old elementary school and looked at the new all plastic playground that I helped build in high school, after many months of taking petitions around the neighborhood. But it was not the old rickety metal playground, now gone, that I enjoyed on hot summer days that was giving me this odd feeling. As I drove through the neighborhood I looked up at the sky line and thought, maybe there are less trees. I do not remember seeing this much sky before, maybe there are less power lines, I have heard they were going to all underground power lines.

But I just could not put my finger on what was missing.

When I pulled up to the Pollard's house, it felt kind of funny. I parked my mother's truck in almost the same spot where I use to park my car when I lived next door. Our old house did not appear to be that different, the garden was not as well kept and beautiful as my mother had left it. . . but not everyone is perfect.

The Pollards house is the same to me. I think I will always have the smell of their house in my memory, it always smelled like food to me, bread smells, baking smells. And Paisley still followed Sara to answer the door, although she is older now and does not have the same unwelcoming attitude she use to when greeting people at the door.

In the backyard I climbed up the Pollard's fence to peer into my old back yard, much like Matt and Sara use to when they were peaking their heads over to talk to us. The yard was horrid, the things my parents had left behind because they did not have the energy to dispose of them were still there, along with about 10 air conditioning units, masses of toys and trash. My mother would of never allowed the yard to look that way.

As Sara and I drove out of the neighborhood we talked about these feelings, about how we have all these memories of the neighborhood and yet it has somehow changed. Sara talked about jogging by all the houses I dragged her to as a kid and all the places we had adventures. I forgot how much time we actually spent together as children. She was such a bad apple but I loved her anyways. Some things never change.

Then as we were talking, we put our finger on what had changed. It was not so much the neighborhood that had changed but us. Even though the "Mill" was our home for many years, it no longer felt like home. . it no longer is home. We have grown up and home is a feeling associated with a different place. The funny thing is . . . I guess I thought it would always feel like home. That all the time spent there, that all the adventures, the memories would always lock in that home feeling. Funny how growing up changes things.

As we left the neighborhood, I thought about all those days and nights sitting on the Pollard's front step talking to Sara and realized not everything has changed. Almost 20 years later and I am still rambling on to her and we are still sharing our stories. Funny how life is.

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