On our way home from my parents’ this past weekend, my kids and I drove by my childhood home on Mapleview Avenue. My parents sold my childhood home in 1988 and we moved but this is where I remember being a kid and doing the things my children are doing now. It was more emotional than I thought to return to my old stomping grounds, and it was unsettling to see how the neighborhood has changed. To say that it doesn’t look the way that I remember it would be an understatement!
I remember my old neighborhood as a happy place filled with cute homes and friendly faces (mostly). It was a great place to be a kid. I remember playing ball in the front yard, trick or treating with my friends on Halloween, wading in the creek, squirting my Grammy with the hose, playing mermaids in our above ground pool, helping my mom paint rocks to use as accents for the garden, and having our family over on Christmas Eve. I shared some of these memories with my kids as we slowly drove around my old block, and they seemed to enjoy hearing all about my younger days.
Of course, I have some unpleasant childhood memories too, as everyone does. I can remember falling and scraping my chin and knees after my parents warned me not to wear flip flops while riding my bike. I remember the devastation I felt after ripping my cape while trick or treating and thinking it was the worst day of my life (ha!). I remember narrowly escaping catastrophe after almost crashing my brand new go-cart into a parked truck because I mistook the gas pedal for the brake. I remember hugging my cat Morris and crying, thinking that he was the only one who understood me. I remember feeling cold and wet after falling through thin ice in a swampy marsh area at the end of our street.
Overall, I remember my time on Mapleview to be a happy one. It was a good place to grow up and in many ways, it is similar to the neighborhood we live in now so I hope that my kiddos will one day look back on their childhoods the same way.
Reliving my childhood in a matter of minutes, I couldn’t help but feel sad that the neighborhood doesn’t look or feel like the same place I remember running and playing as a kid. How could a place where I spent so many years seem vaguely familiar yet unfamiliar at the same time? It was a dreary day when we visited so that was part of it but it was more so the fact that many of the houses were in disrepair and there were no signs of happy family life. There were no kids playing in the streets and no dogs being walked. Our basketball hoop was no longer hanging above the garage doors, and my old playhouse has been replaced with a shed. This is not the way I remembered it.
There are times when even as a thirty-something year old mom of three, I still feel like a kid myself. Now, after seeing the neighborhood where I thrived as a child and witnessing firsthand how much things have changed, I can’t help but feel old beyond my years. If I’ve ever doubted it, now I know. I am not a kid anymore.
“Times and conditions change so rapidly that we must keep our aim constantly focused on the future.” -Walt Disney
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