The summer of 2010 was wrought with emotional turmoil and upheaval. I’d lost friends in the transition from third to fourth grade, and I’d pulled myself away from social circles in exchange for keeping my nose buried in a book whenever I could.
I was not entirely alone, however.
My mom used to have me read the texts that came in on her Boost flip phone while she was getting ready to take me to hang out with my friends––kids of her best friends––while she ran her errands or worked at the coffee shop. Single mom and all that. I was always excited to see my friends; there was promise in the air for a fun day ahead.
The car ride to my friend’s house on the corner of the cul-de-sac was always sweaty, even with the windows down. California heat made my thighs stick to the tan plastic seats of the hand-me-down car from my aunt’s friend, a 1999 Buick LeSabre that smelled faintly like old coffee and paper that’s been in the sun too long.
One of my friends lived on the corner, wedged between the house with the triangle entryway and the busy street. The other lived all the way back in the dead center. We’d always start at one house and wind up back at the other. I remember back then thinking it was so cool that they had an atrium, a staple of a highly desirable “Eichler” home.
The run down the cul-de-sac to pick up our friend never changed. The sidewalk was always too hot, the occasional rock getting under bare feet with a sharp pain that never pierced our excitement. It always messed up the pedicures I got with my mom once a month.
What was different today as opposed to other days was that we chose to stay at the house on the corner and set up a slip-n-slide in the backyard. We were impatient, of course—we tried to use it before it was completely wet. Maybe it was from the slight hole in the hose, or how the water always seemed to crowd up at the end first, but before long, the familiar burn of the half-wet slide guided me down the runway until I splashed into the small puddle at the end. When I got out, I was walking like a dog with boots on. There was more mud than I’d have liked to slush in and the grass that was cut a week ago stuck to my ankles. I hated the feeling then, but I miss it now.
I didn’t have any cares in the world then. My biggest concern was whether or not the grass had been recently cut and would stick to my ankles. I have bills now, I’ve signed two leases, I have to figure out how to afford groceries. I miss the one friend who became an addict, and I miss the other who never left home.
But we all have to grow up sometime.
Art by Sarah Schneider