January 22, 2007

I remember

Twizzle did this meme. Set a timer for 10 minutes and write a piece beginning with the phrase, "I remember..."

This is Main Street, one block west of my childhood street, Sycamore.
I remember our street. In the eyes of 'normal' Americans, there was little to recommend it. We had no yard and busy cars sped up and down a few feet from our front stoop. For us though, our outside world was filled with possiblities.

Stepping from the front door, I'd run my hands along the reflective black tiles in the entry way. After their coolness, the sunwarmed stone of the stoop burned my bare feet. Turning left, I ran past Mr. Hooper's window, crossed 14th street and tore over to the grassy playing fields of the School for Creative and Performing Arts. Wearing only a swimsuit, I dug in the mud searching for fossil encrusted rocks. When the day's excavation was complete (and the pool finally opened), I'd run across the street --after looking both ways first-- and throw myself into life at the pool. I loved getting into dunking duels with the lifeguards. Each year I picked my crush and would target him with my violent affections.

I remember running across the street to the appliance store and dragging home empty refrigerator boxes. First we cut out a little window in the side. We drew patterns and flowers all around the opening, then decorated neighborhood telephone poles with crayoned signs, "Puppet Show, 5 cents." Neighbors gathered in our basement, solemnly putting nickels in the box on the table. Our homemade productions seemed to be comedies no matter what we tried to write. After the show, the box, laid on it's side with slots cut for seats, became a firetruck. Eventually, the distractable firemen got into wrestling matches and tore through the walls of the truck. Those tattered pieces were the best sleds ever. Even in summer, you can sled down grass if you have a great chunk of cardboard.

On weekends during the school year, we rode our bikes in the asphalt hills of the Peaslee Neighborhood Center. I never grew brave enough to jump off the steepest hill, but loved riding up and down the shallower slopes. One day, riding there alone, I was confronted by six older girls on bikes. "Give us your bike, bitch!" I could see my front steps beyond the leader's shoulder. "NO!!" I yelled as I pumped my hardest through their midst and toward the safety of home. They followed me for a little while then gave up, laughing at my peddling frenzy.


Snickollet said...

Mr. Hooper? Really? Like on Sesame Street?

This is a lovely piece. Thanks for sharing.

Rachel said...

Yeah, great writing. I like all the sensory details. I really felt like I was there with you.

bg's Little Sis said...

I loved it, thanks for sharing and all the detail, "fossil encrusted rocks", the cool tile and the hot stoop, I could feel it.

The bully girls, been there, glad you were swift!

Mama Nabi said...

I love your memories... it made me feel so nostalgic for the years I lived in Seoul - the whole bustle of a big city living...