I never cry. Well, of course, I have cried, but I am not a ‘crier’. Some people, men and women, cry easily, I don’t. People probably think either I have no feelings or I’m ‘really strong’. But once in a while, usually at some low hormonal point or when I’ve been drinking, out of the blue, my voice will crack and I will be surprised by my own emotions that hide so well deep down in my soul.
That happened today. I had to take a trip into Houston for my daughter’s regular neurology appointment. I always dread it, even though it’s not really a big deal. I just hate the drive, the traffic, the parking, the waiting, the exam, and the questions about seizures which are hard to answer because they are not the same every day but they want a ‘number’. You’d think after all these years it would be old hat and I guess it is, but I still hate it. Especially the Houston traffic which CRAWLED today for miles. I will have to remember not to schedule a 10AM appointment!
I wanted to take my kids on a field trip to the science museum, but I couldn’t afford it, so instead I took them to eat fast food at Texas’ favorite restaurant, Whataburger and we sat in the van and ate lunch. Then we headed back down the toll road towards home and I got the idea to take the exit and go visit my old neighborhood where I lived from the age of 9 until I got married, except for when I was in college and a couple years in other places. The toll road goes right through it now, but back then it was just a little two-lane street. The street is still there beside the toll road which carries the far-West dwellers into the city to work and then back home again away from the crime and congestion of the city.
Anyway, I decided since I was so close to show my two youngest sons where I grew up. They had never been there because my dad died and my mom had to sell the house before they were born. She actually lives only a few miles away in a much better and safer neighborhood, on the other side of the toll road, but she rents. So I took the exit and as soon as my van was on the street and pointed into my old stomping grounds I felt my emotions change. I don’t want to repeat this over and over, so I will say it once for every place I went – It was like I had entered a war zone, a third world country, a ghetto, a dump, shockingly ugly. I drove through where my husband and I used to hang out and party with our biker friends in the early part of our marriage. Some of them are dead now. Then I drove past my middle school and high school . I passed three police cars in a one mile stretch. Then we drove down the main boulevard towards my old neighborhood. I noticed the street name signs in English and Vietnamese. I noticed the closed down businesses and the ones that were still open. The McDonald’s that I worked at when I was 16 had been torn down and a new one was built on the same spot. It was nice. But the Long John Silvers was just closed. The Pizza Inn building housed some other business. I turned into the neighborhood coming from the back entrance. Instantly I was hit with a million different memories of all the people I knew who lived in those houses years ago. I started to tell my son something and my voice cracked. I stopped talking. He looked at me sideways. My family isn’t used to me having emotions. I’m not saying that’s a good thing or that I do it on purpose. I gathered myself and kept up the tour guide routine. But I was really sad. We got to the end of the street where my house was, at the four way stop sign. I paused a minute in the street and took a long look at the changes in the yard, the trees, and the house. They had put up an iron gate to protect the back section of the long driveway. The patio cover my dad had built was still there. I had a strong urge to go inside and walk aroud, but of course I didn’t. I thought of my dad, his plants, his gardens, him working in his yard. Dammit, now I’m tearing up. My dad’s birthday was last weekend. He’s been on my mind. I thought of the neighbors in all the surrounding houses. We all knew each other. I thought of playing in the street in front of the house with neighborhood kids, riding my bike all over the whole suburb and beyond, riding my dirt bike along the bayou trails, walking to school which was .8 mile away according to Google . Here are a few photos I already had scanned into my computer. When I can I’ll add more.
I doubt I will ever go back there. The decay was just too hard to look at. I am sorry I didn’t take any photos of the house for the blog. Well, lookie here, it’s on Google maps, my old house! My house I used to climb that big tree. 🙂 So , I got over it, made it back home to the country, and ran a couple miles. I’m okay now. Those darn sneaky emotions.