Where I come from the streets are not always paved. They are formed and fashioned from stones and slivers of sheet rock from the deep valleys by the creek beds quarry’s. And when the rain comes down it does not glisten across cool black tarred roads, but trickles in between the stones and fairways to distant ditches and sparse yellow grass.
There are not always street lights to light the way. The blinking yellow lights from house to house glisten in the evening hours, the moon shines over from tree top to tree top, and the night springs to life a thousand, million, firefly’s that twinkle in the bushes and never ending corn fields.
The sound of trucks passing old docile bicycles as they grind their way down the street with their flashing red and yellow reflectors. Mothers and Fathers calling their children in for dinner at a quarter past 6:00pm and the choras of laughter as they end their game of Red Rover.
There is no mystery to the making of sun-tea, nor questions about how to make the perfect peanut butter sandwich. Kool-Aid is the liquid fruit of every household for blocks and blocks down every crease and corner and in the summer sun Mr. Freeze comes to play on the lips and kisses of bare feet children as they run across the dirty meadows and fields of dying wheat grass. No child forgets the sound of crickets in the night, the feel of a mosquito bite, or the bullfrogs as they croke the hour like great Grandfather Clocks of nature. There is no misunderstood story of neighborhood haunted house or the ghosts that lurk in the shadows behind the barn in October. And even the youngest child knows what an august maze is or where the nearest hayride happened to be in early September.
Where I come from there is always a front porch swing and a garden of rhubarb in the backyard. Dandelions aren’t considered weeds just very popular flowers in the spring. Popular because they could tell you if you happened to be in love or if butter was your favorite topping to every vegetable (especially brussel sprouts). They became your wishes and dreams once the small petals turned and became flowerflys, but only if you could blow strong and hard enough to make every single one catch into the wind before you ran out of breath.
You didn’t have to wear your shoes outside and you always had two pairs of clothes for the day. One pair to go to school in and one pair to slide into when you got home… just in case you happened to be sliding into home base later on (which was always made from a piece of old cardboard).
No one ever worried whether they would get hungry before dinner. There were cherry trees, crab apple trees, wild strawberries and grapes along the wines of your nagging neighbors. Sometimes there was wild spinach in the grasses between one persons house and another persons house and you could wash it off from a hose that someone always happened to forget to wind around the rusty wheel on the side of the house. If you were lucky you could munch on fresh mint like bubble gum and sour ick berries (if you knew were to find them). Not everyone was lucky enough to get lic-a-sticks, or roll ups, or the little 5cent bubble gum that came with mini collectible comics.
Where I come from you never had to call and make a play-date. You only had to show up with something to do and a spring in your step to ask if your friend could come out to play. You only had to have your chores done and the time to build an imaginary fortress before dinner time rolled around and the firefly’s came. And sometimes if you were lucky your parents would let you stay out just long enough to catch one of those firefly’s and stick it in a jar… sometimes a green one and sometimes a yellow one… so that when you went to bed you didn’t have to worry about monsters in your closet or under your bed. You could just watch the twinkling of natures night light and drift off into some distant dream of cities where the roads are always paved and lit up by a million street lights so that the fastest race car can go zooming down the tarred fairway. Dreams of a place you would always believe to be better than the little town where children knew how to play Red Rover with bare feet.
The place I come from is built on the foundation of dreams of a better place…
… and sometimes I look out through the window of this so-called better destination and realize this place has forgotten how to Dream and perhaps all of the people here are frightened of the shadows in their lives because there are no firefly’s and too many streetlights. Perhaps they are so sad because they step and smash on every Dandelion and forget that they will one day become their wishes and their dreams.