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We took a right on Adolphus street, drove up the hill, and looked at the trees passing by on the passenger side of the car. My heart raced rapidly as my eyes turned and searched for the street numbers. 1982. 1986. Then the car stopped when it hit 1991. I looked up to see the old basswood tree that I haven’t seen in six years, and found behind it the moss green house that I called “home” for eleven years of my life. I stepped out of the car and the crisp Minnesotan air flooded my nostrils, and I thought to myself, “I’m finally back.”
Minnesota had various parts that Texas lacked. From that fresh scent of pine when you step out of your door to the ten thousand gorgeous lakes that stretched all throughout the state, Minnesota was just different. I spent most of my life in a tight knit suburban town called Maplewood just outside of Minneapolis. It was always a goal of mine to visit, but I never seemed to have the opportunity —until the summer after my junior year of high school. In a sense, I saw it as almost a homecoming, a moment where I could see how I’ve changed and what I’ve become. I started to walk towards the tree that was no longer mine and then gazed up to see the gigantic trunk that stood before me. Memories of when I’d spend days climbing up and down this very tree came rushing back. Remembering that there was a birch tree to the left of it, I glanced over with hopes of seeing another familiar sight, but the new owners had cut it down. I thought back and knew that the birch tree was dying when I left and I guess it eventually decayed to the point where it needed to be cut down. All that remained was the tree stump, out of place in the front yard covered with green grass and towering trees surrounding it.
“Hey, come on! Let’s get going to the elementary school before the sun goes down,” my friend called, snapping me out of my nostalgic trance. I had completely forgotten that the sun was about to set in less than an hour. I walked unwillingly to the car and took a final look at my old house. After taking a final look at my old house, I walked unwillingly to the car and thought to myself how much I’ve changed since I was that little twelve-year-old kid who used to run around playing tag and hide and go seek.
When we reached the school, we walked past the football field where we played during recess, but I had my eyes set on the large playground that I played on during most of my days at Edgerton Elementary School. What caught my eye was the big rainbow slide and impulsively my mind flashed to the week before the big move when I was there with my best friend at the time. We both sat on top of the slide were front row seats of the empty football field. The sun was close to setting, just like the precise moment six years ago. The conversation we had, before I left Minnesota was what reignited my initiative to come back to Minnesota.
“So the big day’s next week, are you excited for it?” he said.
“Not really. I’m going to have to make new friends and basically start a new life,” I replied. My heart just dreaded the fact that I was going to lose everyone I know and trading it with people that I know nothing about.
“Yeah, you’re gonna have to visit every once in a while when you move.”
“I will for sure. It’ll only be a few years and I’ll be right back here for college or something.” I had my heart set on coming back to Minnesota so I could reunite with my friends.
He chuckled and said, “Do you remember when we used to say all the time we’d grow up and live on the same street? So when someone needed anything we’d be right next door to help?”
I laughed as well and said, “Yeah, that was a long time ago.”
His smile faded. “I’m gonna miss you man. You’re like a brother to me.”
“Brothers stay in touch. We’ll still talk, I swear,” I replied. I remembered thinking that it wasn’t going to be the same as talking in person. I wondered if we’d remain brothers after the many years to come before I would return. However, at that specific moment in time everything was flawless—flawless in a way that everything seemed right. Everything seemed to be exactly where it needed to be.
As I walked on the playground, I couldn’t help but notice that it has grown as much as I had. There was graffiti on the sides of the rotunda and some parts of the slides, and a swing set missing the seat completely. This was not the playground that I remembered. So much has changed. Then I realized that I changed just as much as this old place. I no longer played on the old tree in our front yard, nor did I try and catch butterflies in the summer. I replaced those activities with studying and volunteer hours. Real life had taken over and soon I would be off the college.
It was disappointing to think that I had lost contact with most of my friends in Minnesota. As I thought of this I called out to my friend, “Hey, do you remember that one time we talked up by the rainbow slide when I was going to move?”
“Yeah, I do,” he said. At least I managed to keep the one extraordinary friend even after six years, the one that is like a brother.
It’s tough to rightly say what would’ve happened if I would had stayed in Minnesota. Who I would I have become? What I would look like? Who would my friends be? However, sometimes life just happens to be out of my control. Although at first I was just like the tree stump, out of place in the yard, I do not regret it for one second the move. The people and the experiences that I’ve come across the last few years have formed the person that I am today. Life has taken me everywhere, Minnesota to Texas, and in the fall, South Carolina, but I will always keep two sections of my heart—one for the new memories yet to come...and one for the old memories that has made every fiber of who I am today.