a childhood memory
When I was a kid there was this brick wall that separated my backyard to an alley where there was a mini-mall.
Hoping this wall was a great short-cut on my way to school. There was a Nora’s Nails, Solar Sun Tanning, a sushi place, and a romantic little restaurant — French, Italian, I’m not sure, called Truly Yours. Walking all the way around the wall would have taken longer, obviously, so it never occurred to me to do that. I would just hop the wall. If my mom was with me I would still hop the wall and wait for her to walk around and meet me on the other side.
Sometimes I’d sit up there — on my wall, and watch the grown-ups go about their business. I especially liked watching the couples drink wine and sneak kisses on the outdoor patio of Truly Yours. I remember wishing so hard that this being a kid thing would just hurry up and pass so I could get on with having a life. I wanted nothing more than to sit outside under the patio umbrella with a boyfriend and a bottle of wine.
I always thought that being a child, abiding by parental units, unable to do as I pleased — unable to stray far from home — their home, not my home — I thought the whole childhood experience was entirely overrated. I thought that then as I sat on my favorite brick wall watching the people in the real world have real lives.
I was very busy that summer. I got accepted into a summer theatre arts program and studied hard. I fell in-love with an actor boy. (The first actor of many, but I didn’t know that then.) When school started up again I reluctantly grabbed my backpack and headed for class.
As I walked along I thought about Brent, my actor-love, we went to different schools and I probably wouldn’t see much of him. I thought about the play we put on, my parent's enthusiasm for my performance. I had a lot on my 13-year-old mind. When I got to the wall, I prepared to throw my backpack over like I had so many times before but this time, something happened. I hesitated. The wall looked different to me. Dirtier than I remembered. Not as appealing. I was wearing my brand new white, Bonjour jeans and I didn’t want to get them dirty. I felt distracted by my thoughts and getting my hands scraped up on the filthy wall seemed like a major hassle. What would be the point? So, I continued to walk — the long way — around the wall. I didn’t look back.
Several years later they tore down the wall to make room for more shops. And I became the grown-up with the boyfriend, sipping wine and enjoying kisses under the patio umbrella. But, sometimes, I feel a sort of sadness about abandoning the wall so soon. I often long for a shortcut. I’d like to find a tall place to sit and watch the world. To not worry about dirty jeans and scraped up hands — to stop time for a moment. To hop a wall.