Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Three Things About My Childhood

1. My dearest childhood friend was Kelly. She lived around the corner and despite the fact that I was deathly afraid of her family's Chihuahua named Cocoa Bean, I loved to spend afternoons at her house playing games and dreaming up a million things to be when we grew up. At one point or another, our career goals included being fashion designers, archaeologists, singers, and astronauts (though I was not as committed to space travel as Kelly). Not only was Kelly terribly cool, she was incredibly kind. Once in elementary school, we found ourselves in the middle of some girl drama--being recruited into a group that was planning to exclude several others. I remember Kelly bringing me a note after school, written in her cute handwriting with little doodled cartoons, letting me know that I could do whatever I wanted, but that she wasn't going to take part in anything that made other people feel bad. Every kid should have a friend like that.

2. I remember being half-asleep in our big red station wagon on our way home from somewhere, anywhere. I'd keep my eyes closed and try to guess where we were by the feel of the road--the stops, the bumps, the turns. As soon as I felt the car go over one slow dip, then two dips close together, I knew we were almost home.

3. There was a house in our neighborhood, next door to Kelly's, that reeked of sadness. In our otherwise tidy neighborhood, this house was unkempt and unwelcoming. One year, a strange man came to live with the family, except that he didn't live in the house. He lived in a small pop-up trailer parked on the side of the house. He was an ex-con, and that's what we called him, "the ex-con," even though I used the term before I actually knew what it meant. He would sit outside all the time, smoking, and watching as people came and went. Neighborhood gossip informed us that he was a rapist, a burglar, a kidnapper. It was terrifying and thrilling, but mostly terrifying. I often rode my purple bike the long way to get to Kelly's house to avoid his stare. I don't remember what ever happened to him. Does anybody remember?

11 comments:

Soul-Fusion said...

love this - although I had a friend named Kelly in elementary who wrote me a note to say I was no longer her friend. I like your Kelly friend much better.

Kristina P. said...

I think it was mandatory for families to have a station wagon, back in the day.

Omgirl said...

Your post reminded me of my next door neighbor and friend growing up, also named Kelly. Only she was mean and selfish and would not let you have snacks at her house even though her cupboards were full of wonderful delights like pop tarts and pringles and your cupboard was full of old towels. I think you got the better Kelly.

MiaKatia said...

I love your three things lists :)

Suzie said...

Now I am all worried about what happened to the ex-con.
I am glad, however, that he didn't kidnap you or that you had long-term damage due to his stare.
Please let me know if you hear anything.

Kami said...

I want to know if the station wagon had rear facing seats perfect for a head on collision like ours did. ;)

How about wood paneling?!

Ann said...

beautiful. haunting. rich.

Lindy-Lou said...

#1. Kelly is a great person. Hope you stll keep in touch. Ask her if she still loves balogna.

#2. Great car in its day. Loved traveling at night with you kids spread out on blankets, sleeping through the miles (BSBL). Before Seat Belt Laws.

#3. Have no idea. No official warnings were given us neighbors. It was probably a non-violent crime. I do have somewhat of a knowledge of the family that paid the mortgage and lived in the house. A topic for private conversation.

DeAnn said...

We had a wood paneled station wagon when I was a child. I sat in the "very back" facing backwards. I really truly thought I had made up the game of being "almost asleep" trying to guess where I was on the way home from grandma's.

Kellybee said...

Reading this made me want to smile and cry all at the same time! It's so fun to hear your memories of a shared childhood. I didn't know that you were afraid of my dog Cocoa Bean! He was a sassy little dog, wasn't he? I loved all of our schemes together. Do you remember when we made all of those country inspired crafts and held our own boutique to earn money?
I too could close my eyes and tell by the two bumps that we were home!
As for the ex-con that lived next door, if I remember correctly, he was arrested on rape charges. He was very creepy! I always felt so bad for those boys. They deserved a safe home.

Travelin'Oma said...

The ex-con guy reminded me of a (rumored) scary ex-con named Richard. He moved back into our neighborhood with his parents after some (rumored) time in jail. My mom hired him to paint the outside of our house and was very kind to him, although the rule was he couldn't come inside, and we couldn't talk to him without mom being there.

A couple of years later my mom had a miscarriage and lost a lot of blood. Richard donated many pints of blood for her. It was really interesting to see how her kindness made him kind.

I'd be scared to be that kind nowadays. And that scares me more.

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