Monday, November 26, 2012

Going Down Alamo Avenue

I was having one of those restless nights again. I was tossing and turning, and I just couldn't get comfortable. I finally just gave up and found myself just lying there, thinking about the day's events, hoping it would induce some much needed sleep, and for some reason, I pictured my self back in my old neighborhood on Alamo Avenue.

When I was younger, and couldn't fall asleep, I would lie there in my twin bed, and try and listen to the noises outside my window. The noises lulled me to sleep, like a lullabye. If I was really quiet, I could hear an owl from a distance, perched on the light pole near the canyon; a cow softly mooing in the pasture beyond the canyon, and if I remained very, very quiet, I could even hear a seal crying out from seal rock, out in the ocean.

I started to think about those sounds, and suddenly I started to remember all the childhood friends from that same neighborhood. It had been years since I've even thought of most of them, and as I remembered each and every one of them, my memory had lost the faces. I remember who they were, and where they lived, but for the most part, their faces were mostly a blur to me. If I saw one of them today, it would be highly unlikely I would recognize their faces, and sadly a few of them have already died. This left me to thinking and asking myself. Is this what I have to look forward to as I get older?

There was Joey who threw Disco Duck dance parties, Kelly who made fun of my Winnie the Pooh outfits, that nameless girl on the side of the block who had dolls whose hair would grow when you twisted their necks, who had that canopy bed must suitable for jumping, there was Ricky who lived at the corner who I traded a dollar for a quarter, and that other girl who had the mean mom; and the noisy family with all their daughters, but still there are a few friends that I will always remember.

I remember my "first boyfriend". His name was Sean, and he lived down the street. He had a little sister, and they lived in a two story house with a big stairway to the front door. One memorable day, while playing in his backyard, he gave me a kiss on the cheek under a small cherry blossom tree. Later he held my hand and walked me home. I was five years old, and I really didn't think it was a big deal, but before he left me by my front door, he warned me in a very serious voice, "Remember not tell your mom I kissed you!" I was confused. Was his kiss on the cheek a bad thing? Nevertheless, I kept my promise and to his day, I never told my mother about the "forbidden kiss". Sadly, as soon as we started kindergarten, we were forced to part ways. Having a girlfriend in the same class, and hearing the constant tauntings of "Sean has a girlfriend!" proved to be too stressful for the both of us. I never got a second kiss, and he moved away a few years later. I saw him years later in junior high school. He went to a rival junior high, and his high school jazz band was performing at our assembly. I just watched him play the saxophone and said nothing to him.

Kim lived a few houses down the street across from the canyon. Kim was from Texas, and her parents pickeled pickles in large barrels in their garage. She had an extensive doll collection in her room, with multiple outfits which we played for hours with. She was a few years older than me, but still liked playing with dolls, so we enjoyed eachother's company. I remember her stories about growing up in Texas the most. She once told me that she actually went to school there barefoot because it was so hot. I often wondered how she didn't burn her feet while going to school barefoot, but I didn't ask. Kim was really good friends with the young couple that lived in between us, and for some reason we used to go there quite often. I never went by myself, but Kim would go there constantly. I don't remember why, but they were very nice to us and always gave us fruit or ice cream. This couple must have been in their 20's and they drove an antique style van, and I don't really remember their names, just that the woman was pretty and had long hair, and her husband also had long hair. He reminded me of "Meathead" character from that show "All In The Family". Kim moved away, and the cool couple moved soon after in their antique van.

Then there was Freddy. Freddy lived down the street from me and he is someone I will definitely never forget. Freddy had bright red hair, wore glasses, and freckles covered his little chubby white body from head to toe. Freddy was my age, but had a learning disability. I don't remember exactly how we first met, but I remember playing "school" in his room almost every other day. I was the teacher and he was my student, and he had the most addicting giggle you ever heard, and he was a very sweet friend. He would come to my door, and say to my mother, "Hello Anne. Can I play with Julie today?" Years would pass and I would see him around town almost on a daily basis, as I drove by. He never really changed much through the years. I would say, "There's Freddy!" and wave, and he would wave back, although I was never sure if he knew who I was. One day, I stood in line behind him at the grocery store. He was holding a gallon of neopolitan ice cream with a girl who I assume was his lady friend. I said hello, but I saw no sign of recollection on his face when he looked at me. I smiled and told him to have a nice day.

There was another red headed boy that lived down the street who was a little bit older. I don't remember all of the circumstances of the day, but I do remember throwing a rock down the canyon at "some boys" who were calling my friend names. I didn't even see the rock hit anyone, but I did hear a loud yelp coming from the canyon. With that, us girls ran as fast as we could away from the scene. I had the longest run up the hill to my house. When I got there, I quickly hid in the back bathroom and waited. Sure enough a doorbell rang, and my mother, who had no idea what had happened was talking to the red head's mom at the door. All I heard was mumbling, the door closing, and my mother shouting out my name, "Ah Juliana!" A few days later, I saw the kid at school with a big ole' bandage on his forehead. For some reason his class was visiting under classmen and he volunteered to play a board game with me. It was then I learned that he wasn't a bully afterall, but to this day, I swear his mother gives me the evil eye each time I go visit my mom on Alamo Avenue. I don't think she is ever going to forget me.

Soon after all this, I heard a train whistle, and fell fast asleep.