We had a house.
It used to be a trailer, but my dad built around it and made it into a house. It was on crawl space. It was a yellow house. The screen door on the front was brown. There was a deck on the back of the house. It went all the way around from the back door to the sliding glass door in the living room. It wrapped around the house like a hug. My dad built that deck one summer.
In the backyard we had a creek and woods. We had blackberry bushes that bloomed in the summertime. When I was about nine or ten we had a pool. Above ground, but we were still the most fancy of all of our neighbors and relatives.
I lived in that house when I was a little girl.
I went to Elementary school with a bunch of kids who were about the same as me. Every year, kindergarten through fifth grade, it was the same group of kids. We would be shuffled around a bit, sometimes, as there were three teachers in each grade. But it was the same group of kids, always.
I went to Middle school with the same group of kids. A new group of kids came in too, from another Elementary school. They became part of our group of kids. We all went to school together from sixth through eighth grade.
I went to High school with the same kids. All of us, now, and then another school came together. We moved in and out of groups and made friends with the kids from the rich school, but we were all in it together. We went to school together, a lot of us, for thirteen years.
I don’t see any of those kids anymore. I’m sure they have kids of their own now…families, lives, jobs. In my mind they are still all eight years old and we are on the playground. I am saying to Jason Lawson, “Do you know it says piss in the Bible?” Andy Edison is bringing his E.T. toy out of his locker to show us what he got for Christmas. Elizabeth Williams has those long, beautiful braids just like Laura Ingalls in Little House on the Prairie. She eats Pepperoni bread for lunch, though. She tells me to name my new doll Lucy.
Most of them would not remember me, I’m sure. I’m a non-entity to most of the people I know currently, much less people who knew me more than twenty years ago. But I remember them. And mostly? I remember us. The wonderful feeling of having a group of people who know all about you and think you are nice or good or kind.
My children went to kindergarten in North Carolina. They went to first grade in one school in Tennessee and second, third, and fourth grade in another. I am contemplating, now, taking them to another state for fifth grade.
I don’t know what it’s like to move a lot. I never moved as a child, with the exception of moving on our own land when I was fourteen. We built a house but we didn’t really move. My children have comfortably settled into a routine here. They have friends. They have their after-school program. They are “the twins” at school and I think they like that. That identity. That feeling like they belong.
Now, as an adult, I am aware of how the people I grew up with don’t technically matter anymore. I don’t think of them and I’m sure they don’t think of me. We’ve all moved on. We have our lives. We have kids. We probably never think of that little school…well, hardly ever. We hardly ever think of those people anymore. The fact that we had a bond and we had the same people we could count on, love or hate, for thirteen years doesn’t seem very important now, at the age of thirty-two.
But it was very, very important when I was a little girl, on the jungle gym with Wendy and Elizabeth and Andy and Chris. I never realized how much so, until now.