We stayed outside until the street lights came on, even later than that some nights. We played capture the flag, road our bikes to the store, and talked about kids at school that we didn’t like. We rode the same bus to and from school. We built forts in the woods behind my house and played Barbies in my basement. We had sleepovers and often ate meals at each others’ houses. It was an open door policy at both of our homes. Your parents knew that when you were with me, you were OK and mine appreciated you being a steady friend for me.
We were the kids of that second street past the high school on the left.
The neighborhood kids.
We met for the first time in my backyard when I was seven and you were five, and since then we’ve had a kinship that has spanned just over 20 years. Our bond was created over summers spent berry picking, dreaming about boys, and camping out in my backyard.
A kind of friendship that stems growing up two houses apart.
We played with the boy across the street, my older sister, and the kids around the corner, too. Endless fall nights playing flashlight tag, riding bikes on the trails next to all of our houses, and swimming in the only pool on the street.
We grew up together. We were all so close in age—each graduating a year or two behind another. We were all early to mid-80s-born babies, cementing the fact that all of our parents had been busy around the same time.
I look back on those days with fondness. Though many of us have lost touch or moved away, the memories of a childhood surrounded by friends on the same street will always remain.
Now that I’m a mom, I want what I had for my own kids. I want them to have friends they can simply walk up the road and knock on the door of and say, “Do you want to come out and play?”
I want them to have friends on the school bus on the first day of school—a familiar face of the kid across the street that will make them feel comfortable on that first journey to school.
I want them to have a place to go if they accidentally get locked out of the house when they are older and get off the bus before I get home—neighbors that I can trust to call me at work and remind him where the spare key is hidden.
I want them to form friendships that will follow them throughout their school years, maybe even ending up in the same class as some of the others.
I want them to know the kinship that exists between kids that grow up on the same street—like how that one neighbor will never buy whatever product the school has them trying to sell for the next fundraiser, so it’s best to skip that house all together. Or which one has the best Halloween candy.
I want them to know the best trees to climb in a two-mile radius and the best place to spot the neighborhood tomcat—all fun things shared between local kids.
I want this for them.
I want them to have what I had. I want them to find a best friend up the street or around the corner. I want them to grow up with neighborhood kids because it can be one of the best parts of their childhood should they be lucky enough to experience it.
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