The hive

The streets were never lush, let’s get that out of the way. But there were wide leafy canopies in the summer. There was the slanginess of pavement, the jangle of noise. There were twilight games of kick-the-can, there were men in khaki shorts who camped in canvas lawn chairs, talking baseball and air conditioners they couldn’t afford. There were delivery trucks belching their way to McLaughlin’s corner store. There were stacks of newspapers tied down with yellow rope on the corners of Briar and Chatham Streets. Here, yes, there was a vivaciousness of people populating their hive, and if you turned your head you might miss something. The ice cream truck came by every Wednesday at two o’clock, chiming the illusion of magic, and kids scrambled for nickels and pennies before it drove away, soon, too soon, hurry! There was the familiarity of time and light, and those well-trod paths between screen door and street, and kids burst from the doors wearing the same homogeneous tennis shoes. Everything about it was home, an insulated place of being and belonging. And then it fades, fades like the heart, fades like that first awkward kiss, fades like the wooden seats of a swing set. It never leaves, but it’s never the same. You come back twenty, twenty-five years later and it’s an old photograph that doesn’t line up with what you know. It’s choking weeds and peeling vinyl siding, and the voices are different, the names are different, the contours of familiarity are different. The bones have shifted from what you remember. It’s lonely, but maybe that’s okay. Still, though, it aches to recognize that it’s all gone and that the only place where it survivesΒ is in your head. And remember: the streets were never that lush.


22 thoughts on “The hive

    • Steven Baird November 6, 2016 / 10:02 pm

      Thanks, Tom. I agree, things do look smaller. And I do miss the ice cream trucks. πŸ™‚


  1. D. Wallace Peach November 6, 2016 / 12:27 am

    Lovely, Steven. I too remember those days of youth when everything was grand and familiar and made sense. I like those memories and I think they were as lush as I remember … filled with childhood. ❀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Steven Baird November 6, 2016 / 10:01 pm

      Thanks, Diana. Every experience and memory is so unique. We hold onto elements of the past because they’re a part of who we become. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  2. amoodindigosoul November 6, 2016 / 2:41 am

    This hits so close to home!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Helen Jones November 9, 2016 / 1:57 pm

    Hi Steven! I haven’t been around for a little while and I’m sorry about that – hope all is well with you and you aren’t too snowbound yet πŸ™‚

    It’s strange to go back to a place and see the now overlaid by the memories of what was – the hawthorn always seemed sweeter when I was a child, though there are still echoes for me in the warm scent of spring.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Steven Baird November 9, 2016 / 10:29 pm

      No worries, Helen. Writing is busy work. We don’t have any snow (yet), but definitely a chill in the air.
      I haven’t been back to my childhood home in fifteen years and I was shocked how different it looked… smaller, and yes, not quite as lush. Everything looked bare-boned and neglected. But memories fill in the spaces between then and now. Thank you for your visit. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  4. patriciaruthsusan November 19, 2016 / 2:12 pm

    And it’s not nearly as big as we remember it. Great remembrance, Steven. πŸ™‚ — Suzanne

    Liked by 1 person

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