The street is pocked with potholes and cracks. On the roadway, kids scatter about
because the local high school has just let out. The kids are dodging traffic on green lights,
sauntering arm and arm with lovers and weaving their bicycles in and out of the cars that fill the
The curbsides are riddled with mom and pop car lots, one after the other; you pass them, as old
unwanted cars face you, smiling with their grills exposed- and the once perky balloons, float half-
heartedly above the sun burnt hoods of the cars, these balloons, maybe like the people who tied them here, are too tired to float high, instead they have shriveled up under the sun with nothing
but their sad strings anchoring them to the cars, holding them hostage, until they sink fully in the
A few businesses down is my childhood street. A small convenience store sits on
the corner; and above it, sits a hand painted sign that reads ”Bill’s Convenience”. I can
remember walking here with my sister and sometimes my cousin, Trevor, on a hot late summer day after school. As a child,
my mother would send me to Bill’s Convenience with a one hundred dollar bill and a
mission. I would first check out the Laffy Taffy selection, if they had purple in stock, I
usually got two sticks of that. I can remember the buckets filled with sour apple and
grape gum. My sister and I would each scoop a handful out and sit it on the counter.
Sometimes I would grab a bag of Cheetos and my sister usually got Funyons. To drink,
we always got Yoo-Hoos. After we made our picks, I went up to the counter and said
what they knew I was going to ask for. “And one pack of Marlboro light 100s, for my
mother, please”. I do not know where I had the audacity to ask for a pack of cigarettes at
the age of 13, perhaps, it was just naivety, but with that, they plucked the cigarette pack
off the wall and threw it in the sack with the rest of our purchases. I dropped the eighty
dollars worth of change into the plastic sack, and off we went down the street, chewing on Laffy
Taffy and chugging our Yoo-Hoos.
On the opposite side of the street, there was a church park. Sometimes my sister,
cousin and I would all go there and hang from the bars or swing. Some houses on my
street were nice, sometimes the neighbors would wave hello if they were in their garden,
or out grabbing the mail. There was one house that seemed abandoned to me. The grass
was over grown and the paint on the gutter was flecking off, and there was nearly no sign
of life except for a few cats that lay swooshing their tails in the grass. My house sat a
little further from the middle of the street. It was a dark brown two-story house that had a
small window in the staircase that looked out into the street. This was where my mother
and stepfather lived. My stepfather, Steve moved into this house after both of his parents, Peggy
and Gene (who lived in the house for decades) died. While his parents were alive, they
were our neighbors, because, before my parents divorced, my mother, father, sister and I lived
Before my parents divorced and before we moved next door, I can remember our neighbors having large Saint Bernards, and learning to ride my brand new pink bike down our driveway with my father.
I can remember when my mom took pictures of my sister and I in our school uniforms in the front
yard on the first day of school. I can remember looking for Santa Claus on our front porch with my
dad because I thought he had fallen off of the roof.
I remember when the Saint Bernards died, and then a few years later when Gene died. I remember then, when Peggy got sick and died and I remember when their son, Steve, moved in.
My parents got divorced, and my dad moved out.
My dad told me they were getting divorced in the mall, at my favorite store, Limited Too.
I remember leaving the store, the fluorescent glow of the mall lights reflecting
off of the shiny mall floor. It was bright and dim at once in the mall and the shrieks and laughs
and rustle of people echoed off of the escalator and glass store fronts. I don't remember how I
felt, I only remember how it sounded.
I don't remember moving from one house to the other one next door. I don't know how that transition happened. It seems like, just one day, we were living next to the house we once occupied- and there were new people in our old house, filling it with life and planting trees and flowers and making it theirs. I guess that's how change happens. It happens slowly, but really all at once.