Posted in childhood, family, life

Mandalay

Until I was in fourth grade we lived in a giant neighborhood. A perfect people maze. Rows of houses and streets full of possibilities. Sidewalks.

On Halloween I carried the medium sized plastic pumpkin. Because I’m the middle one. Medium.
My older brother’s held the most candy and he got more anyway because he didn’t trick or treat with my father like my sister and me.
We wore costumes from Kerr Drug. Your options were rabbit or clown.
Next year my sister would be what I had already been.
Kerr Drug was the place my sister once took without asking a Christmas stocking. Right into her pea coat pocket. She was busted by my mother before we ever got to the car.
My mom marched her back to return it while my brother and I waited. Glad for once it wasn’t us.

The Bookmobile was near this drugstore. The Bookmobile was our friend.
We would go on Saturdays. Return 3 check out 3 more.
Up the steps to the library on wheels. I want a book about horses.
Let me read you Morris the Moose Goes to School one more time. I can read it by myself.
After mom gets her hair done.

My father built us a clubhouse.
It was a wooden rectangle with a door and a window. It had a bench like seat inside.
Perfect for playing school, hide and seek, and Wild Wild West.
Our backyard was the best. A swing set, badminton net, vegetable garden, and a picnic table. A sprinkler. How far can you throw that baseball.
My mother brought us Kool-Aid in souvenir McDonalds glasses.
We made moss gardens. My sister and me.
With lakes and ponds and broken limbs for bridges and construction. The occasional acorn. Pine cone.

We lived at the end of a street. Mandalay. We rode bikes and skateboards and scooters you had to push yourself.
Big Wheels.
Turn left out of the driveway. Woods.
On the other side is the 7-Eleven. And baseball cards with flat pieces of gum.
If you put a card on the wheel of your bike it makes a cool noise.
All you need is a clothespin.
We walked by ourselves. You could do that then.
The woods were all pine trees. Walk a few feet and get lost.
I’m sure those woods made way for some type of progress. Which is never really progress despite what the adults say.

On this street I learned how to ride without training wheels. Take them off. Dammit.
My father did that famous thing fathers do.
He let go. And I didn’t even know. Until I looked back.
Don’t look back. Keep riding.
To ride while looking back takes practice. When I was 5 or 7 I didn’t know.

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