Dear 18 Year Old Me,
It’s almost time to leave so take a long look before you head westward because you won’t be back except for summer visits. Notice the way the sun sparkles on the water as you drive along Maple Avenue. Do you see how the water touches the sky? You won’t be able to see the horizon like this every day anymore so don’t take it for granted. Take in the sun and the ever squawking seagulls as the cool morning sand oozes between your toes. The sun will only be a sometimes visitor where you’re headed.
You’ll never live in this house again so take a walk around the yard. Make sure it’s when the rhododendron are blooming and not when those hard nuts are falling from the tree in the front yard. Take in the forsythia that grows along the neighbor’s yard right outside your bedroom window. The screened in patio is just to the left. Remember that August night when we sang Happy Birthday to Mom as 40 candles illuminated her face? She wasn’t happy with us. Who knew she would never make it to 60. Mark milestones because you never know when you won’t be able to mark them.
The maple tree still has the L shaped scar from the night the car came barreling through the backyard only to be stopped by the boat anchor in the shed. What a night that was. It was the first time I heard my older brother swear and he didn’t even get in trouble. Remember how Dad tried to coax the neighbor out of the car but she wouldn’t emerge until she had her wig back on? Little did she know there was a gas can nearby. Fortunately, the only damage was to the tree and the contents of the shed but it was a memorable night in our quiet neighborhood. Be thankful for near misses.
The roses are just around the corner. Mom loved the roses. Be careful of the thorns though. Life is kind of like those climbing roses. There will be many beautiful moments but there will be some thorns along the way. You’ll suffer the occasional pains from them but in time you’ll see the beauty. Sometimes it takes a while to see the beauty though. Keep searching, it’s there.
The last stop around the yard will bring you to the tree. You spent hours under that tree watching your little sister play in the dirt with her Matchbox cars and Tonka trucks. That tree provided shade for your 11 year old self as you watched her blond banana curls blow in the breeze while she rode her Big Wheel in the street with the neighbor boy. Someone would always be there to yell “Car!” as kids played. Kids don’t play in the streets anymore because they are over-scheduled. Make sure your kids have time to play in the street.
You’ll have a few more places to call home after this one and you’ll make great memories in all of them. This first one will always be special though so keep it close to your heart. In the future you’ll only be able to drive by to show your kids and husband but you’ll marvel at how much the trees have grown. Though most of the families have probably moved on each house will always belong to that family who lived there when you were a child. I hope our neighbors are driving by their childhood home and remembering our family and our street games of Kick the Can and Cops and Robbers. There’s no place like home.
Much Older Me