Mama Kat s leading me down memory lane this week.
1.) Your childhood neighborhood.
I could on on forever.
My childhood neighborhood was idyllic. Leafy suburban streets, walking distance to one of the top high schools in the state, if not the nation. Neighbors who all knew each other and barbequed together in the summer. We Christmas caroled. There was an annual neighborhood parade. There was an annual block party. There were occasional keg parties busted by the neighbors so they didn’t have to get busted by the cops. (There were a couple stories, long after I left the neighborhood, about kids getting busted at home during school hours in flagrante delicto. Rumor has it at least one boyfriend was sent scampering down the leafy suburban streets sans pants but I cannot verify.) We walked each other’s dogs, babysat each other’s kids, and the next door neighbors were unphased when my sister, days after getting her license, backed into the leased car they were turning back in to the dealer the next day.
What I remember the most were the summer evenings in the pre-adolescent years. There were about six or seven of us on our block who were of an age and summer nights we’d play in which ever yard we found ourselves in. The games were typical: kick the can, capture the flag, hide and seek, or tag. We played with Cabbage Patch Kids and Care Bears like other children of the eighties. We had popsicle stains on our clothes and mosquito bites on our arms and legs. The ice cream truck would come down the street and our parents would never fail to say no to requests for over-priced candy colored ice-cream creatures with gumballs for eyes. We rode bikes up and down the block.
Eventually the street lights would come on and the crickets would begin their nightly songs. We kids would be in a driveway or on a lawn, still playing, still talking, not acknowledging the change from day to night as if denying the truth would prevent the inevitable. But then it would happen: Mr. R from down the street would ride slowly by on his bike chanting “Five minute warning!” to his two daughters. And we would run and hide, all of us kids. Our backyard had a thick stand of trees that divided our yard from the homes behind us that we called the Jungle and we would crouch there, giggling, willing Mr. R to not come looking for us, imagining the rest of the parents might somehow also forget.
They never forgot. We always had to go in.
In those days my sister and I often spent the summers sleeping on our screened in porch on a tangle of sofa cushions and sleeping bags so our days continued long past the final good-nights from our friends. We would sleep eventually because there was always something in the morning. I would usually be headed out to the stable since I preferred to spend my summers riding horses and my sister would go off to one of the camps my mom would find to entertain her non-horse-obsessed child. The days started early, damp from the dew on the grass, cool after an upstate New York night, the sun coming back up to begin another summer day that would lead to another summer night.