“I have often walked down this street before
But the pavement always stayed beneath my feet before . . .
Does enchantment pour out of every door?
No it’s just on the street where you live . . .
Let the time go by, I won’t care
If I can be here on the street where you live”
On the Street Where You Live from My Fair Lady
Kellie’s free writing
Friday prompt this week is to describe the street you grew up on. By way of explanation for the opening lyrics and the free write that follows: With a father in the military, we usually changed streets every year and a half or so, and cities every 3 years. The first time my mother and I lived on the same street (my father was away for the last year or so) for more than 3 years felt very strange. I actually made some friends in grade school/high school (I wasn’t the new kid in class all the time), and went back and visited friends there several times over the ensuing years. One particular friend introduced me to the man who is now my husband 30 years ago on the west coast of Canada – and she and I have recently found each other again after many years.
But I digress. The street I’m going to describe is the first street I REMEMBER living on (from the time I was two to 3 and half or so.) I don’t have a clear recollection of the layout of the inside of the house or the backyard. My bedroom memories are a bit fuzzy; I had most of the same bedroom furniture until I left home 18 years later, lol). I think that house was where the Christmas I hung my stocking on my dresser, and Santa left me a toy floor sweeper happened. There is a black and white photograph of my mother and I that may have been taken in the backyard (again with both of my parents gone – and neither forthcoming much about my childhood) – I can’t be sure. Same with the snow-suited me on top of a very deep pile of snow next to a driveway. I now have a box of such old photos – I might even be able to verify the year. Often the small black and white prints had a date stamp in the white area above the picture and below the wavy-cut photo print paper.
But what I do remember, in my two and a half year old mind, is the streetscape. I remember running down what seemed like a big hill sloping down to the sidewalk, with my hair blowing into my eyes. Apparently between one and half and 2 and a half (or so), my mother – a former hairdresser – let the pixie cut of my earliest years grow out. The girls next door – like newel posts stepping down from tallest to smallest – were running also. The big excitement wasn’t an ice-cream truck. I assume these might have visited our neighbourhood, but with my food allergies, I wasn’t allowed such luxuries. Nor was it someone showing off their new bike or roller skates (the old-fashioned kind with 4 wheels you used a key to tighten to fit your shoes). No, it was of all things, a street cleaner/sweeper – a big piece of machinery cleaning up the detritus of leaves and other such things next to the curb.
The houses was post-WW2, with the trees lining street still relatively new, though seeming very tall to a short person such as me. The cement sidewalk blocks and connections were smooth and even, one car families parked in their driveways or garages/car ports so the machine had free range of the street side. I imagine it was new to the neighbourhood; certainly new to me to leave such a last impression 50+ years later. The fact that other kids were also drawn to its rumble (girls weren’t supposed to be interested in trucks and cars back in “the old days,” lol) suggests that it was a relatively new event.
Funnily enough – as life tends to circle around – 30+ years later I found myself living in the same small city. On my mother’s urging – the woman with the stepped children still lived next door to our old house – I revisited Helen Street. The trees were larger and leafier, there were more than one car per family, and the “steep” slope I remember running down was actually a very gradual rise from the street to the front door steps. But I recognized, as if by intuition rather than clear memory, the front door and living room window (although other renovations had been done on the property).
I’ve lived on many streets since then (probably at the very least 35) including as many as 10 or 12 as a child. From other streets, other places, I remember backyards, front porches, walks to and from school, even houses across the street – but this early memory – faded into black and white but still strong – is the street from my childhood I remember best. “Let the time go by, I won’t care/If I can be here on the street where [I] live[d].”