Tuesday, January 20, 2009

the old neighborhood

When I was a little girl Texas was all around me. Limestone riverbeds plumped up the landscape. Chalk rock crumbled in my hand. Carlos Castaneda books, Mexican dresses, Santana music, toe sandals, nude hippies at watering holes, deep blue spring pools, and my house on top of a hill in the middle of a whole neighborhood full of where I came from, we never left. I grew up in The Four Seasons on Berrywood Drive. We missed being named a month of the year by one street. A slight that didn’t matter, we were a line right down the middle of the world, rolling down into a furious creek. The spring of ’82 brought a flood that killed rabbits in a cage that had been propped up on stilts behind a neighbor’s house. It swept the sound and fury along with it, maybe my fury that I never felt, or don’t remember feeling. The neighborhood was filled with kids and surrounded by fields, undeveloped on the outskirts of town, hidden from the interstate by large pecan and oak trees like shawls around us.

We used to follow the trails that wound through the outlying fields on our bikes, sometimes on foot, trails marked by a civilization before us, the 70s kids maybe. We lived the afternoons in forts along tributaries of Walnut Creek. Our next door neighbors, an elderly couple, got shot by Henry Lee Lucas at their liquor store along I-35 and Braker Lane. We used to break in to find their ghosts or killer, the reincarnation of their deaths, for years afterward, on into high school. By then we had lost reverence and were only looking for a cheap thrill heightened by lame pot or cheap beer. My older brother, Jeff, was my best friend then, since we were tots bundled in snowsuits in Grafton, North Dakota, a place my dad took us after graduate school in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where I was born. When I was six Jeff and I moved into that house on Berrywood Drive, at either end of a mottled brown hallway. When we arrived my parents explained to me that my bedroom had a lock on it. I was so young, and they didn’t want me locking us out. Even with that I accidentally locked it shut one day. My parents got mad. I remember holing up in Jeff’s room. He wasn’t mad.

Jeff told me to beat up Chuck, a boy one year older than me who lived caddy corner from us. I don’t know why he wanted me to hit him other than it would be funny. He believed in me, and I would do whatever he said. I don’t remember beating up Chuck, but I probably did. We made horror films with our friends using a Kodak video camera. We climbed fences and snuck out our bedroom windows at night. He stole a car, I stole clothes, he sold fake pot, I made out with boys in cemeteries all before we got to high school. We were arrested and banned from our friends, and decided rebelling wasn’t worth it because we didn’t hate people and we didn’t hate ourselves. We hated what was missing.

5 comments:

stewbie2 said...

That's great, Ness. Reminds me very much of my childhood--with the creek and climbing fences...

Michelle said...

Love this glimpse into the Nessa that was. xx

Jeff said...

wow... what a wonderful picture of that place, that street, that time. thanks for painting it! how wonderful that you and jeff were/are so close. what a great big brother to have growing up.

Anonymous said...

Two doors up and I didn't know all that!! I do remember breaking into the house next door and seeing a cracked mirror- evidence of ghosts :)
Do you remember the fire of that house? It was scary but exciting all at once!
Thanks for the memory...

vanessa said...

That fire happened a few months after we moved in. I remember it vividly. I remember the old couple and their children taking over the house for yrs after. And I remember you!