Friday, February 26, 2010

A few short years ago...

...this was me. In Mrs. Elliott's kindergarten class. In 1987.

Memorable moments from kindergarten, in no particular order:

Meeting all 26 of the letter people (Miss A, Aaa-choo! is still my favorite)
Discovering the big thick crayons that were flat on one side
Not getting to watch the Price Is Right with my mom during the day anymore
Having my very own lunch box
Using the silver shiny scissors with black handles
Hearing the aide, Ms. Junkin, tell me that my coloring skills weren't so good (no, I haven't forgotten...or forgiven her)
Playing in the play-kitchen
Taking naps
Not really sleeping while everyone else was taking a nap
Having the teacher ask if I was the one velcro-ing and un-velcro-ing my shoes during nap time while everyone else was taking a nap, then playing dead and not answering back
Not ever getting my name on the board (nope, not once)
Learning the Pledge of Allegiance
Having a "Self Concept" lesson each day
Getting the chicken pox the last 2 weeks of school
Being healthy enough to go in on the last day of school for a few my sparkly red dress with rhinestones
Meeting these other little people, some of whom I still keep in contact with

Friday, January 29, 2010

Going back...

One of the things I was most afraid of when we went back to FL this summer...was driving by my old house.

When I graduated from high school in 2000, I went back to FL to visit my best friend. Seeing the house then (just 2 years after we had moved) was very unsettling. I remember just driving by and feeling like someone had punched me in the stomach.

The house was dirty on the outside.
The flower-beds were overgrown.
The lawns were clearly uncared for.
Someone else's cars were in the driveway.

And I realized that it wasn't ours anymore.

So when we went back in this last June, I had geared myself up for another punch in the stomach.

We drove through the old neighborhood. There were pink stickers in many of the windows, indicating that many of the apartments were abandoned. The streets and sidewalks were old. It felt almost it had all been another life.

But, as we got closer and closer (and my heart started racing), it suddenly felt familiar again. Just like it always had been.

When we pulled wasn't quite as bad as I'd envisioned it would be.

The house was a little better looking than I had remembered it in 2000, the last time I was there.

And then we drove around the back. And I lost it.

How could it be?

How could the grass really be that long?
How could the fence be that old?
How could the trees be that big?
And most of all, how could they not be caring about that house?

How could the new owners not remember...

...all of the birthdays we celebrated?

...the perms my mom gave me at the kitchen sink?

...the sleepovers I had in the bedroom that I was afraid to have all the lights off in?

...the new babies we welcomed?

...the fun we had in that outrageously huge backyard?

...the memories, the birthday cakes, and the blown-out candles?

...the numerous family pictures against a background of neatly trimmed grass, our swingset, and our trampoline?

How, really, could those people and that house have forgotten this family that called it home?

I cried that day. For missing the way things were. For missing the life we had built there. For all of the evidence of our time there being gone.

And, then I remembered something that my parents told us as we pulled out of that driveway for the last time in June of 1998.

We're taking all of the important stuff with us.

And we did.

We took the family with us.
We took the pictures with us.
We took the memories with us.

And 407 E Shell Point Road was just the place we made them all.

In hindsight, I'm glad I went back. I got to show my husband the place where I grew up. Where I lived. Where I made memories. Where I rode my bike. Where our rich neighbors lived. Where my elementary school was. Where my life was.

And, I think it took going back to realize...that I had the most important stuff with me.

Just like we did in June of 1998.