Today, after a whirlwind of errands and a quick sojourn to Norwich to deal with a traffic violation (listening to a judge read someone else’s Miranda rights is not my idea of a fun Tuesday), I made a quick beeline home. I drove past my old neighborhood, located about three miles from my current home in Manchester, CT. After a second more of driving, I stopped.
I did a quick K-turn in the street (all those months of practice really helped me on that driver’s test…considering they never had me do it) and went back, and took a slow, curious drive through my old neighborhood. My block. The block I grew up on.
My old street is truly a ‘block’, tucked away on sort of a hilly slope, gently curving downward to meet incoming cars. My mom used to make me ‘run around the block’ as a weight loss initiative. I would bring books and read on my journey, sometimes also bringing a walkman. I would kill for those summers and falls back. Remember when you had all the time in the world to go for a walk on a blazing summer afternoon or a crisp autumn evening? Now I have to put it in my calendar when I want a nap. I’m pretty sure I’ll have to check it before I can change my nephew’s diapers come September.
The first things I noticed on my little trip were the trees, lining the sidewalk where our old school bus line stood. I remember many a year standing out by the curb, in a pretty dress my mom bought for me at Delia’s, wondering what the new year would hold. On the trunks of the pines, I could see the chopped off ends of the lower-hanging branches; that butchery occurred during the summer of my third grade year. We weren’t allowed to ever climb them again. That didn’t stop me from trying!
After that, things just got weird. I drove slower and slower, trying to taste the memories as they flooded through me. The block party, where we all wore roller blades (my brother with his pink laces) and played street hockey in the parade as our ‘gimmick’. I realized before I came across my old house that since I didn’t get my driver’s license until after we moved away, this was the first time I was actually driving through my old neighborhood by myself, a baffling notion. I could feel my body respond to the gentle twists of the street.
And there it was. The house.
It looks different. Bigger. They added a third bay to the garage, and probably extended it in the back. I laughed, recalling the time we were all playing baseball and Jenna, in her overzealousness, ran headlong into the side of the garage and burst open the skin on her knee. We had a huge backyard. When we purchased the home the summer I turned six, my father was delighted to discover the previous owners had put down a faux basketball court in the backyard. It was barely half-court, but we managed to put in regulation 3 point and foul lines. I spent hours in the summer heat perfecting my shot, trying to be Oscar Robertson. A skill that has served me well in life. Maybe not. But I can shoot daggers!
I honestly didn’t really care about the look of the house. They could’ve slapped a layer of Day-Glo on there. I just wanted to see my rock.
It sits in the front yard, next to the driveway, like a stump. It’s the height of a sixth-grader and about as wide as the back of a Buick. It’s pointless. It’s an eyesore. I’m in love with it.
That rock was mine. It was my little corner of the world where everything turned off. I’d sit out there with an apple and a book, and just dream the afternoon away until Mom yelled me to come in for dinner. In my fantasies, anything was possible.
This is where I get my writing bone. The memories of summers long spent lingering in the back of my brain, the smells of good cotton and clean grass and sprinkler systems. And chlorine. Lots and lots of chlorine. I’m shocked I don’t bleed it at this point.
In that house, and on that rock, there dwells my Muse. I found it again today. Sort of.
For the last few months, she’s been in the corner, hissing at me. She won’t come out, not even when I treat her nicely and feed her Green and Black’s Chocolate (she’s an expensive little wench). I’d get an idea, then the day would fly away from me…or I’d succumb to the numerous little monsters in my head. And not the awesome Lady GaGa little monsters. The monsters that come in the middle of the night, to feed on your deepest insecurities.
I want to be the Ally that charged into everything headlong without a worry or a care, but with the perception of someone who takes care of the details. I want to be that Ally without the swaths of self-hatred and doubt that exploded over my head throughout middle school and college (and has crept back into my life the past year). I want to be that girl, sitting on a rock, eating an apple (still my favorite fruit).
I never, ever want to stop dreaming.