Posts tagged: birthday
As I begin to count down the days to when I leave for college (I’ve actually been counting the years since 7th grade) I find myself growing sentimental in my old age. A week from yesterday I’ll be turning eighteen and no longer will I have my youth legally locked into place. I’ll be an adult in the eyes of both the world and the government. It’s exciting, it’s enlightening, and mostly it’s scary. It’s bittersweet.
But what hit me just now was pulling into my driveway, riding shotgun in my new car that my dad had taken out to Home Depot (the fire alarm in the kitchen just ran out of battery and has been chirping every three minutes since 3 o’clock this afternoon) and noticing that the neighbors down the street had officially moved out. Their cars were gone, lights out, all signs of life lost while somewhere in New York City they’d begun anew. I’d known they’d been moving for a while I just never really stopped to think about it. The girl that had lived there was two years older than me but we’d spent countless afternoons playing dumb games with the rest of the neighborhood kids. I haven’t seen her since last summer when she stopped by out of the blue and happened to catch me while I was on my way out of the house. We talked for a while, then she left. It was nice. We haven’t spoken since. I had my first sleepover in her house and I remember walking down the street with my sister, the two of us pulling our packed suitcases like we ourselves were moving out of our house. My sister only lasted about three hours before tearfully calling home, forcing our mom out of bed at what was probably only 10:30 but felt like the middle of the night to walk down and bring her home.
Seeing that house look so desolate and empty struck a nerve in me. I’d probably hear from them several times over the next few years but I know eventually and all too soon those meager attempts at keeping old friendships between our families alive would fizzle out and disappear altogether. We’ll exchange Christmas cards (if my mom gets them out in time next year).
The neighbors across the street are repainting their house green. Two paint-jobs ago it used to be yellow. When it was yellow a different family lived there. The boy there was a year younger than me and I can tell you even more about the time we spent building tree forts in his backyard or mine. But his family moved about six years ago and we stopped hearing from them a while back. Christmas cards—that’s it. Then the house was painted white and a new family with two
horrible, demonic, destructive monsters little children moved in. Down the street another family moved in with two young daughters and I watched throughout my middle and high school careers as they took over the neighborhood, roaming the same streets in their Barbie Jeeps that my friends and I had once ruled with our bicycles and Razor scooters.
Slowly my old neighborhood gang drifted apart. Phil moved. Michael and Maria moved. Zander stopped coming out to play. Tricia and Ali got too old. Lindsay secluded herself in her studies and books. I guess I also fell away in my own time. I don’t know when exactly we stopped playing together as one big group of rowdy neighborhood kids. I don’t know what we did the last time we were all truly together. I do know that time is funny. It feels so painfully slow when you’re travelling through your awkward years. When you just want 7th grade to be over. 8th grade. 9th grade. High school. And then it is and you don’t know where it all went. What you did with all those seconds, minutes, hours, years. Why you can’t just go back to being a kid who isn’t even bothered in the least by a scraped knee or a bad haircut.
A family with a bunch of little kids is moving into the house down the street though. I’m leaving and in my wake comes the new batch of neighborhood kids. It’s The Circle of Life: Suburban Neighborhood Edition. I wonder if I’ll even recognize this place when I come home for break. All of the elderly neighbors I grew up with are now even older. Eleanor passed away from emphysema and a young expectant couple moved into her old house, Dominic had a heart attack and his wife Rose is still around but hasn’t quite been the same since. The Madrids moved the New Mexico. When I come back, half the neighborhood won’t even know who I am. I used to run this place. What I would give to be able to stop time, even for the shortest while.