I was a backyard tourist today. I wandered the neighborhood in search of old childhood memories, hoping to find comfort in the past. My eyes see things differently, but my heart for this place hasn’t changed.
My granddad owned an old time pick up. When we wheeled into town, he would stop at the post office to show us off. Kids would come running for a new playmate. His friends would tease us through the window and welcome us “home.” A few of those childhood favorites are still around. I’m no longer greeted as someone’s daughter or granddaughter, but as a neighbor.
We would stand with our backs to each other in the middle of Main Street at dark, half way between her house and my Gram’s. We would finish giggling, speak our peace and tell the scariest story we could think of. When we were simply terrified, we would take off in opposite directions running fast. We’d burst through door ways breathless and excited to do it all again tomorrow.
It was my firm belief that the librarian had no idea what kind of mischief we could dream up. We checked out the Judy Blume book, Forever, and planted ourselves on the steps outside. As it grew dark and we stared at each other in wide eyed disbelief, we guiltily headed for home. My Gram was fully informed by the time the screen door slammed shut.
As a little girl, the Reverend would call us to the front of the church. The boys would light the candles, and some very lucky person got to ring the bell to call everyone to worship. High up in the steeple that bell still lives, now a family gathers below.
Heading out of town, the road to the plant is closed off with heavy cement barriers. When we were little we would ride bikes to the field just beyond and pretend like we were racing motorcycles on the trails. Many days we loaded up the baskets on the front of our bikes with sandwiches and any item necessary to imagine a hotel and a store and this place as a booming town built in the olden days.
We live over the river and through the woods. Much of our free time was spent there. Once we lost ourselves catching minnows and searching for arrow heads in the creek bed. As lightning flashed through the sky and thunder pounded overhead we realized we’d walked far past the confluence of Indian and Plum Creeks. There is no shortage of adventure when you are free to roam.
It’s nice to be present in a community where kids get to tell stories and make mischief and congregate in wide open spaces. I’m comforted that our kids will have the opportunity to walk the very same streets and think about their memories someday. I hope they see things differently, too. And always have a heart for this place we call home.