A Lifetime of Memories

“You are never going to believe these pictures when you see them…” my dad calmly
spoke. As I viewed current photographs of my childhood home I felt broken, and my
heart stung as I took it all in. My memories of that little ranch home felt nonexistent.
Dead grass scattered the bare yard like ashes. The once lively home now painted a silent
and empty picture. I had no desire to return and view the death of my childhood home,
but before I knew it I was there in person: 220 North George Street. My address for the
first ten years of my life. I apprehensively stepped onto the cracked driveway that had a
past life full of sidewalk chalk and four square games. I tightened my fists trying to
distract myself from trash littering the yard. This home did not look familiar. The rusted
fence ached for the colorful swingset it once surrounded. Even the home itself yearned to
watch children run and play year round. What happened to the place it once was?

We climbed trees, built forts and captured snakes in the woods across the street. I was
young, yet my imagination traveled far. At age nine, I canoed down the rapids in the
Amazon River which existed in the backyard of my house. On winter mornings, mom
bundled me up like a giant marshmallow so I could bear the frigid Wisconsin blizzards. I
was free to roam and adventure where I chose because I was a child, and I did not have a
care in the world. Childhood felt like an eternity full of countless activities, and that
enthralled me. Summers were filled with giggles, block parties, and Miss Marge’s juicy
popsicles that trickled down my chin. The small play yard fence seemed at peace
enclosing the trampoline, and colorful swing set. Picnics in the park were my families
essentials to a grand summer. I did not fear the outdoors, but thrived to discover. Those
years I spent outdoors taught me firsthand how the world worked not the internet,
television or social media. My home was warm year round from love and security.

As I drove away from the place I once called home, the outside appearance did not seem
to bother me anymore. Through my memories I was able to recreate the place it once
was. It has been seven years, I no longer live in that house, and I am no longer a child.
Who would I be if I spent my entire childhood inside my house, having no desire to
experience what was beyond those walls? Those adventures outdoors as a child shaped
who I am today: my desire to learn, to travel and to explore nature. Life was enjoyable
growing up in a small town on a dead end cul-de- sac. I am grateful for the way I was
raised. As I approach adulthood, life’s realities can feel overwhelming. I find comfort in
my memories of the outdoors, and the way that I boldly experienced life as a child.