Saturday, May 14, 2011

There Are Places I Remember....

As my life experiences mount and gather in my head, a theme has occurred to me frequently: There Are Places I Remember…. As we move along in our lives, the memory of certain things, places, and people, stay with us, even if just for a moment every once in a while. Something will remind us: a song, a phrase; I’ve even had memories of past somethings occur to me through fragrances. Such is aroma therapy, I suppose.

The place that has always and continues to stand out for me as my best, happiest place to be is on Missile Drive in Enfield Connecticut. Now, I will share with you that this experience goes back over forty years. What happened was, my family moved from Massachusetts to this new place, in the first of a few subsequent moves to subsequent states. I was ready for this experience, at age 13, because we had moved, to that point, infrequently (be careful what you wish for) and because it was a new adventure, strategically placed, as all moves were, during the summer in between school years. I remember we, as a family, drove to what would be our new town, and checked out various homes available for us to live in. One in particular was a unanimous winner; a small, brown home within a sprawling (or what seemed sprawling to a thirteen year old) residential community.I remember enjoying the feel of the place right away, including the surrounding community, and I remember how cool the push-button light switches seemed to me. This was the first place I would have my own bedroom, as opposed to sharing with my sister. Her room was cute because it had some built-in features, but mine was larger, and it was…Mine! I recall the decision was made for me to stay behind, with my grandmother, for about three weeks while the others moved into this home, so that I could finish exams at the end of that school year. Of course, this didn’t sit well with me for a few reasons, but I did manage to get through those weeks and am alive and reasonably well today.

Just about immediately, other young people my age gathered around the area where my new home was, to introduce their wonderful selves to me. One was George, whose last name I fail to remember now, who was “wicked” cute and lived a few homes down and across the street from mine. One was Skip, last name also forgotten, who was pretty much the neighborhood casanova, also cute but in a different way. He lived across the street on the other side of my new home. Another was David MacDonald. Yes I do remember that whole name; relatively easy. David was a nice guy, always part of this pack of guys, who eventually liked me more than I liked him. Then there was Kate Boucher – she pronounced it Bowcher; not the French version Booshay. Anyway, Kate was an intermittent friend who lived on the next street. My neighbor, Linda, who my folks thought might be a friend for me initially, ended up not being so. She had other friends already established, and was a bit on the snooty side, for some reason. Skip, my friend mentioned above, was completely enamored with her, almost as much as she was with herself. We did ride to school together in her dad’s car, but that was the extent of our interaction. Then there was Laurie Wallace. Laurie and I eventually became best buddies, pretty much inseparable until I moved on. At first, I kept her at a distance, because that’s what the others in the neighborhood did. The only reason for that I can recall is that her family was “different”, having  blended nine children. Some his, some hers, and I believe one or two mutuals. Laurie lived, conveniently, directly across the street from me, had her hair in curlers often, and was in charge of handling the younger children almost as if they were her own.
It had been quite a while since I felt the camaraderie I quickly felt within this group. They welcomed me into their circle easily, we enjoyed conversations, kick ball, planning for whatever our futures might be, going through puberty all at the same time. And there was that eventual, inevitable kiss with Skip. Just once as I recall. A quick one at the swing at some park nearby. Peck ~ and it was over. I was, of course, smitten, and feeling more than pleased that “The” guy seemed to have an interest in me. But, don’t forget, there was Linda.

Today, this place continues to stay with me for the friendships and what feels like so many events packed into the short time we lived there. I remember not having the best school year, socially speaking, but my neighborhood friends, who I could always count on, trumped that situation by far. I can see, in my memory, each of us walking  from our respective homes after school each day, to the place in the center of this “village” where we would automatically find each other and enjoy the afternoon.

We moved from this most favorite of my childhood places, within a year after arriving there. I recall the shock, horror, and complete sadness as my father announced this new move to our family. To New York. I recall, now brace yourselves, blowing kisses to my bedroom, on more than one occasion, as the tears flowed at this upcoming loss for me. I recall trying to figure a way not to go with my family, but found no one willing to adopt me and keep me in Enfield. We called it Thompsonville at the time. I recall the morning we moved, getting into the family car, none of my friends in sight, having said our goodbyes a few days earlier, I suppose. I recall sadly moving away from these cherished friends forever.
Laurie and I remained in letter-writing contact for a few years, as my family moved to New York, and onward to Memphis after my graduation from high school two years later. We did visit Enfield once for maybe a weekend, and I was pleased to find each of my friends there for that short time.

I loved this place on Missile Drive in Enfield Connecticut; more accurately, I loved these friends who made me feel a part of their lives and I loved having them in mine. I recall them with love and with a caring that will likely stay with me, since it has been quite a while now, and I can still conjure up wonderful memories of them and our time together. Thankful, I am, to have known them and to have had this wonderful experience.

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