I barely recognized the neighborhood, it looked much different. The trees were huge, the sidewalks small, the houses old… Time had taken its toll on my old stompin’ grounds… I don’t think we had too much impact from our days of stompin’, but time and the elements had the power we only dreamed about.
Many of the roofs were tattered, shingles curled up at the ends and the color long gone from daily exposure to the elements. The roofs looked like the sun mocked and tortured the hopeful manmade protection and stood strong in the sky, sneering at the feeble attempt to withstand the long time champ.
The paint on some of the houses and fences was chipped, flaking, peeling, and faded. Even the houses that had changed colors were susceptible to the dry wind blowing across the surfaces, wearing them ever so slightly, day in and day out. The exposed wood had just a hint of it’s once proud and strong character, those same enemies got the better of it as well.
Even the streets looked different. How much skin had the rugged pavement ripped off bodies? How many curbs had dumped the small children from their bicycles? – The children that so desperately sought to conquer, all the while, the curbs, the pavement unyielding from its character.
Though still hard and rugged, the concrete and pavement was worn, showing it’s age through the cracks and lines. The seemingly gentle trees did their damage as well, heaving the concrete and pavement as if they weren’t so tough after all.
The stone planter was still there on our old house… I hid my homemade flag tied to the top of a long branch in that flower bed… I don’t remember the name of the kid that stole it, but I remember the car barely coming to a stop before leaping out to retrieve my flag and teach the kid a lesson, much like the lessons the concrete and pavement taught me…
Just driving through that old neighborhood a person wouldn’t know that they’re looking at a piece of me and all the other kids that grew up there… Although I drove through alone, I knew it was a part of my families heritage. One might sense it, but you can’t see the bonds created within a family as they struggled through the life they shared, the good times and the bad.
The bond three brothers created by sharing a 9’x9′ bedroom, the bonds created through the frustration of six family members sharing one shower… It doesn’t seem possible, but we were more durable in some ways than the manmade protection from the elements.
As I caught a glimpse of myself in the rearview mirror, I recognized the same wear on my soul cage as I can see in the old neighborhood. My old stompin’ grounds… We traded some punches, shed some blood, even a few tears… Like the trees gently move the hard and strong concrete, my heart is moved by the memories…. The memories of a not so extraordinary kid who was blessed with extraordinary love.
One last glance around the old place as my eyes search forward, looking to create the same love for my kids, growing up in their own ever aging neighborhood…