I had a medical appointment this week with a specialist – a respirologist, who is trying to decide whether I ever had the asthma that I was diagnosed with as a child. The appointment took me through the neighbourhood I grew up in. A neighbourhood I love dearly and highly recommend growing up in.
We had a little house that I loved, with raspberry coloured carpeting that I got to pick out for my birthday. We had a play house in the backyard, and a deck on the back and a porch on the front. My dad lived around the corner and his attic was all ours. So was the garage, mostly. Down the street was a park, a public pool (indoor) and a public skating rink. A few blocks from that was my elementary school.
We live in a lovely neighbourhood now, with great neighbours, but one thing I miss dearly is having a corner store. We had a corner store that we called George’s, because we knew the owner, George, and his family.
I could walk to the corner store if we needed anything, and there was the pizza place kitty corner to that. My best friend lived 10 minutes away, my sister’s best friend was closer. We had a dead end around a corner that we used to ride our bikes. We had a bit of green space down the block with a hill that seemed huge when we sledded in the winter and looks absolutely tiny now.
And if you crossed the road from that green space you found the bike paths along the canal.
We spend all our time on bikes, riding around the neighbourhood, going down past the canal. We played in the park, we swam in the pool, we spent as much time outside and around the neighbourhood as we could, with our friends.
I drove up part of the alley we used to use to walk to school. I drove past my dad’s house and our old house (the one I loved so dearly, the one we moved out of when I was 12). I drove past the corner store, which changed ownership in the 90s and now has a sandwich shop inside where they used to stock VHS rentals. (My sister and I rented Clue every chance we got, and High Spirits, starring Steve Guttenberg, Peter O’Toole, Darryl Hannah and an unknown named Liam Neeson. I don’t think that one would stand the test of time).
I drove down the main street, where almost all the stores have changed. The video store we frequented burned down a few years ago and the sign is still there, the windows boarded up. The old movie theatre is still there, saved by local investors a few years ago, now next to a Shoppers Drug Mart instead of a parking lot.
The library is still there, it has a new name. My elementary school is still there, but it got a renovation after I left. There is still a good chance that when I go into that old neighbourhood I will see the parents of my childhood friends and classmates.
When Joe and I started dating I walked him through that neighbourhood, where I was still living at the time, in my mother’s house, and he laughed at me as I told my memories of virtually every block and landmark. The church where I went to preschool, the house where my teacher lived, the park where I stepped on broken glass – the newspaper box that my grandmother had to sit me down on so she could rest while she was carrying me home after I stepped on glass at the park.
It’s funny but wonderful to have all these memories packed in to one place that I can go back and tour. This place where all my people were.
My town, it’s right there, always available to me. Always changing, but never completely changed.