I sit under the small forest of pink crepe myrtles in our front yard. The smell of freshly cut grass and April flowers fill the air as I lean against our big olive tree. A little yellow house stands behind me. Its bright color reminds me of sunshine and happy memories. It used to be blue, but I don’t remember. I only see the house that is my childhood home.
Across the street is the local policeman, who parks his car in his driveway and always makes me feel safe. Next door is a retired nurse who helped my mom get to the hospital when she broke her ankle. Down the street is an old lady with Dalmatians who never cuts her front lawn.
My house is the prettiest one of all. Twin evergreens welcome visitors to our front porch. Flowers silhouette the olive trees and crepe myrtles, including Blue Bonnets, which were perfectly planted under a mulberry tree. My mom says they are the Texas state flower, and how they remind her of her childhood home in Henderson, Texas. I can smell them from where I sit and I can picture my grandmother’s East Texas house.
I rise from my position on the ground and climb up the olive tree. Cars drive by, and I wave to the drivers. I know them by name and I am friends with their families.
Winchester is a small town. But it is home. It is where I was born, where I started school, where I fell in love with dance and art. It’s where the Blue Ridge Mountains reside behind my house. Where we have parades for Apple Blossom season, and apple picking at the orchards every year.
I grew up roller blading, learned how to ride a bike, and played tag with the kids in my neighborhood. I played hopscotch, got my hair cut at my neighbor’s house, and even had my first crush. I got poison ivy, plenty of bee stings, and lots and lots of splinters. I carved my name into our backyard tree and turned our swing set into a fort.
I almost died twice in the house on 107 Meadowbrooke Place. As a baby, I was bitten on my face by my dog, and fell on a screw when I was seven. While I still have the scars to prove that they happened, I’ll always remember how my neighbors were there. The same neighbors who gave my sister and I extra candy on Halloween, who helped string lights on our house for Christmas, and who helped shovel the massive snow piles every winter.
I hear the familiar jingle I had been waiting for and climb down from my tree as Mr. Softie turns the corner onto my street. I had been saving my one dollar bill just for this moment. I cannot resist my usual temptation: a strawberry milkshake with extra sprinkles. Mr. Softie always remembers to put on EXTRA sprinkles, because he says this house is his favorite and my sister and I are his favorite customers.
I smile as Mr. Softie hands me my milkshake, and I gladly hand over my dollar. “See you next time, little lady,” he says, and I skip back up to my house on Meadowbrooke Place.