Monday, August 29, 2011

Melbourne Street

Summer days in Utah feel different than summer days in Temecula. The air is dry. The trees are old. There is quiet. Things move at a slower pace.

I love it here.

Sometimes when I come home, I drive down Melbourne Street and visit the house where I grew up.

I did that today.

I drove by real slow so I could take it all in and see what had changed.

The house looked so different,  I hardly recognized it. It has a new face.  Blue aluminum siding replaced wood shingles once the color of butter. Trees surround it like a frame. It has a friendly look.

But I prefer yellow.

Sitting on the front lawn atop a backhoe was a young guy pushing levers and buttons. From the look of things, he was filling in a hole and trench that ran the length of the property.

I parked next to the curb and walked over to the hole. I didn’t know the guy filling it in, but I felt like I had to say hello and tell him: This is the house where I grew up. My great grandparents were the first owners.

He said: Cool. My buddy owns it now. I’m just here repairing the water line. It broke.

I said If it’s the same water line that came with the house, it is old, 65 years old at least.

He raised his eyebrows and laughed.

I asked him if I could go see the back yard.

He nodded and I took that as signal to go ahead, so I made my way across the lawn as he yelled: The people who rent this place aren’t home, so you are welcome to wander around.

I walked down the cement driveway that led to the back. There was a big wood gate blocking the entrance.

When I pulled on the lock, I secretly hoped that everything on the other side would look exactly the same as it did in the 60's, and that I would be able to climb the cherry tree that in the stood back corner of the yard. But of course, that didn’t happen.

I pushed on the gate and took a peek. A black dog stared up at me. She looked just like the old neighbor dog Patches,  my arch enemy.  This dog was sweet, she wagged her tail and watched me as I looked around.

What I saw was unfamiliar.   A redwood deck covered the space that used to occupy a blow-up wading pool, and metal poles that held a cloths line for hanging up wet laundry.  A big tool shed stood in place place of the brick BBQ my great grandfather built. My cherry tree was gone, and so were the violets that grew under a big willow tree.   It all looked so small.

It’s funny how different things appear through the eyes of a child. When I was young, this yard seemed so huge. Huge, like it went on forever. I really felt like I was taking a journey when I walked down to the very end, and parked myself near the lilac bushes to look up at the sky. But today, it only took about ten steps to get to the back fence.  I felt a little sad.

When I got there, I couldn’t see the elementary school through the chain link, it was completely covered with ivy.   I was 4 years old when the school and the fence were built. I still remember playing on the huge piles of dirt after the bulldozers had quit work for the evening. That construction equipment scared me to death, and I would never play in the yard while it was out there moving. Why was I so afraid? I don’t remember now.   But I do remember being sad when they put up the fence.  It took away some of the magic of the yard.

I turned around and looked at the house. I thought about all the things that had happened in my life while I was living within its walls, and I wondered about all the people who had lived in it since.

How many people have owned this place?  Were they happy here? Did they hang out the bedroom window and read by the light of the moon? Did any of their children find the treasure I buried in the back yard? Who tore out the lilac bushes? Why did they do that?

I gave the dog a pat on the head, and closed the gate. Then I walked out to the street and looked down as far as I could see. My eyes filled with tears.

It brought back memories of bustling neighbors and dads working on cars in driveways -- the Newbolds, the Nilsens, the Morris’, the Hamblins, the Capners. I wished that one of them would come riding down the street on a bike whistling a complicated tune.

They used to do that you know. Whistling was big back then. Nobody whistles like that anymore, at least not in Temecula.

It’s true what they say; you can never go back. But wouldn’t it be nice if we could, just for a moment or two?

I would climb my old tree, play Kick the Can with my friends, and sit on the front porch with my family and sing songs while waiting for the ice cream truck. And at the end of the day, I would hang out my window and look at the moon while the curtains in the window blow in the night breeze.

I wish Steve Jobs would stop fiddling around with Apples and work on a time machine.

I volunteer to be the test pilot.


P.S. The girls in front of the house are my sister Hauley, and me, sitting with a family friend. The baby in the wagon is my brother, Lane. The guys working on the car are my neighbor Mr. Hamblin, and my dad, the fix-it man, the year before he died.


Eve said...

This made me sad. It makes me sad more for my kids than me for some reason? I guess it just reminds me that time is fleeting and we are going to miss today when it's over. I hope we have perfect memories in heaven so we finally can go back home again!

Bethany said...

This is a beautiful post. I'm with Eve - it made me kind of sad. I think I'm sad for the loss of simplicity. Our kids aren't having anything like the kind of childhoods we had. And for some reason I feel like theirs can't be as good as mine was. Why is that? I'm sure theirs is perfectly awesome! Sigh... What part of Utah is Melbourne Street on? Salt Lake City? I'm sure I've asked you this before, but I can't remember.

Jenni said...

what a beautiful post.

meg duerksen said...

this made me tear up! that is sad. i would've cried.
i did cry when i went back to my first house. i bawled. i just felt old and missed that little girl. it was pretty traumatic actually. i am happy you went though.

ManndyHarris said...

Wow! thanks for sharing this wonderful post. ♥♥♥

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