August 1, 2009
By Elizabeth Gerdes BRONZE, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Elizabeth Gerdes BRONZE, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
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The air gently blows a steady stream of cool wind across my rosy cheeks as I wander carelessly down the cracked sidewalk. Taylor and Joe forever is scrawled into the edge of the darkened pavement next to the narrow dent in the ground left from years of many traveling feet and wheels. The atmosphere feels crisp with the smell of autumn with a pattern of fallen leaves in gold hues littering the ground, leaving only a few leaves holding strong to the barren branches of the nearby trees. As I stroll further up the road, I notice many small shops huddled together in groups with their neon open signs flickering behind closed doors and in windows. Parked cars line up and down the road in front of them with parking meters ticking off the time before their owners will return. The splash of water echoes pass me as cars plow through the puddles left on the streets from the last rain.

I remember this place.

Journeying further, the aroma of fresh baked bread and other pastries travel through the cracks of the bakery door and slip slowly past my nose. Like the alluring sweet scent of walking into a kitchen shortly after chocolate chip cookies are taken out of the oven to cool; the kind of scent that leaves no doubt in my mind as to why this bakery has stayed open for so long. Resisting the urge to scurry inside and buy my weight in some sugary pastries, I continue determined down the path.

I gradually come to a stop as I approach the front of a large stone church. The yard, a brown green of a lawn once lush painted with shades of emeralds, but now spotted with a dead brown tint, is outlined with the cobblestone pathway that leads to the large wooden doors. Upon entering, the atmosphere feels calm and comforting, like a warm mug of hot chocolate in the harsh winter cold; a familiar sensation overcame me. This church remains quite similar to how I remember it, the wooden benches that creak as soon as any sort of weight rests on them, the faint smell of inscents that lingers in the corners, the bright light that streams through the grand stained glass windows depicting events in the Bible, and the heartening silence of an empty church.
I remember this place.
Now, I take a turn down an alley on the right of the church and then in a few strides I come to face the school building. It does not tower high nor slouch low, it stands in its humble stature. The building remains just as old fashion as it existed years before, with the bulky clumsy air conditioners hanging out of the classroom windows and the black dusty chalk boards positioned steady on the bleak white walls. Stepping down the hallways I observe students’ work, hand drawn scribbles that are supposed to resemble dogs and cats hang pinned to the walls splashing a bit of color into this otherwise monotonous tunnel. The playground, just a paved courtyard with a hopscotch patch and foursquare area highlighted out, has wet leaves and pinecones scattered across it. With every glance a flood of memories wash over me; the days I spend haphazardly running around this playground during recess remain fresh in my mind.

I remember this place.

As I proceed on my voyage, I come across the park. Its pathways wind around the curves of the murky pond in the center of the area with more ducks and Canadian geese walking around than people. Near the back, the swing set, slide, and monkey bars stand buried in the sand completely abandoned by all the little children since the summer transitioned into fall. Over to the right lies the baseball field complete with the orange dirt that stains shoes day after leaving the field, the thick grass now neglected for the off season, and the uncomfortable metal stands stationed on either side of home plate. Venturing into the dugout, the remains of sun flower seed shells litter the floor and shoe prints linger stamped into the dirty sand from the nightly games that once took place. I cannot count the amounts of nights I took on the role of the audience to the games played here and how when a ball soared out of the fence all the children, myself included, would take off at full speed after that bit of treasure.

I remember this place.

Finally, I reach the last stop on my voyage. The hushed rhythm of my footsteps as I saunter down the residential road sound like that of a heartbeat, consistent and paced. The houses fly by my vision without a second glance, my focus belonging to only one of them. In the mist of the towering houses, a white picket fence guards a small house with grey brick and a large oak to the side. I take my time to get to my destination, savoring every movement and storing every detail in my memory. Yes, I remember this place. I wrap my hand over the cold metal of the gate, gently pulling it open, and proceed up the walkway to the front door. I am home.

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