25 May 2020

Looking Backward

The past is a foreign country --L. P. Hartley

This past weekend, wanting to get out of the house and, just as importantly, give my wife some alone time during lockdown, I drove to the neighborhood I grew up in: the Old Northeast neighborhood of Kansas City, MO.

I first made my way to Northeast High, then drove west on Thompson, following the route I used to walk home. I could swear that every house was still the same color, and the yards that were messy then were messy now.

No specific memories returned, but the typical experience of that walk came back. "Right, the stretch with no sidewalks is coming up... yep... and now that hill that was such a chore on hot days and such a struggle in icy weather." Then, as I neared my childhood home: "There's where K lived, she had a crush on me but I didn't know it... and that's where my cousins lived... and M's house, I had a crush on her... and Mrs. H, I used to mow her lawn..."

I reached the house I grew up in. The front was unrecognizable, but the west side appeared largely unchanged.

Now I turned north on Askew Avenue and drove the three blocks to Scarritt Elementary. The street was narrower than I thought it could have possibly been, from memories of my child self walking along it with other children.

The school itself has been closed for a couple of years, and is now decorated with murals by Kansas City Art Institute students. I'm still processing what I felt as I drove past. I know I was once a 5-year-old running across that playground, but I can't comprehend it. How was that boy me? I've never been five.

That kid was a different person, whose memories I somehow have.

(NOTE: If you're worried that I've given away my grade school, high school and the street I grew up on, I never use real info when I'm setting up security questions.)


Image info: I'm not from here, copyright 2019 by by Carl Bettis, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.