The Castle in House that was not a Home

May 1, 2009
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You get lost driving around this neighborhood for what might be the last time. Tomorrow you leave for a college your parents are proud of, a stepping stone, to some life you've decided that you have been remembering and imagining for a while now. You leave the car running when you step out of it, an old country song plays out of the open window. You walk towards the house that is made up of equal parts bricks and memories.
You press your face and hands to the fence, feeling the splinters, the old wood wet against your forehead. Through an oval-shaped hole, you can see the backyard. There used to be a tree house there, you called it a castle. There were worms too, and bits of broken bottles that glittered in the sun. If you knew how to make daisy chains you would have made them there, with a boy who believed in love when you did too.
If he hadn't moved away you would have married him under a willow, with his sister as a bridesmaid. You would have lost the sparkly plastic ring eventually, under a pile of homework and magazines. If his father hadn't hit him, and his mother hadn't married a man in Reno, maybe they would have stayed in your neighborhood, maybe you could have stayed friends. Maybe you would have gone to prom with him, and there would have been daisies in your corsage.
You could try find him if you wanted, through phonebooks and emails, it wouldn't be impossible, but what good would it do? Seventeen-year-old you is nothing like six-year-old you, there is no reason to think he hasn't become unrecognizable. Your family moved uptown and you moved on, but you have never loved anyone as simply and as purely as you loved him.
Being here makes you tired, but it is not the sort of tired that can be solved by sleep. You walk around to the front of the house, where the widows have been repaired, and the door painted a warm brown.
Different kids will grow up there, who will make up different stories, will hate and love their parents for different reasons, will leave it behind and drive away from it like you do now, wishing and wondering and waiting to be free.





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