Note: most of the names, save 2, have been changed to protect the privacy of former friends and neighbors who probably don't even remember that I existed.
It started as an ordinary Saturday. Me running Angela to swimming, then dropping her off with her dad. On the way home I thought, "hmmm...an empty house, just me and the dogs...I think a nap is in order!"
I pulled in the driveway, parked the Tahoe and yawned in anticipation of my cozy bed. But as I walked past the closed garage door I heard it. The quietest of voices saying, "Hello. I'm here. Have you forgotten me?"
It was my bike. I realized what a glorious day it was outside. The sun was shining, and it was just plain pleasant, with an unusual temperature for October in MN of 70*. Suddenly I was no longer feeling nappy. Suddenly I was wanting to get on my bike and feel the wind in my hair again.
But where? Where would I ride to? I tried calling a couple in-laws who live nearby and ride, but they weren't home. (probably headed out early on their own ride!) When I ride alone I prefer to stick with roads I know, so I felt comfortable with my choice of riding out to the home where I grew up. The ride to Medina would take me through my old stomping grounds, and down twisty winding roads around Lake Minnetonka. PERFECT!
As I traveled the back roads of Wayzata I was reminded of long ago dates to the movie theater there, our high school hockey team's defeat of the Wayzata Trojans on their turf with all our faces painted in colors of the Orono Spartans. I could still feel the energy on that street. Ahhhhh...that was a fun night to remember.
Fernbrook Lane...thick with trees in yellows and oranges, most of it houses built by my Dad's company in the late 70's. There on the corner is the house of Lt. Mosh. I met him in my Army Reserve unit when I was 18 and had a huge crush on him. Hmmmm he was F-I-N-E!!! He was also way out of my league. LOL He was one of those "Wayzata Kids" who always seemed a bit stuck-up to me.
County Road 6...turn left. A beautiful country highway straight out of magazine. There's the house of the Chinese Dr. Once in High school I went to a party there. Well I intended to anyway. Just as my friends and I got there the cops crashed the party. Bummer! I'd heard there was an indoor pool and wanted to see for myself!
Tamarack Drive...Wow, the trees have grown so much you can barely see any of the houses. There's the house of Jim Lane, and just a few doors down is Ace's house. Jim and ACE were in some type of accident right out of high school, and I heard Jim's now a quadriplegic.
And the From's house. Their kids and I were in homeroom together in middle school when their mom committed suicide by driving her car into Lake Minnetonka. (A few year's later she'd be followed by the mother of another friend of mine.) They continued coming to school for several years, but those boys were never the same. I wish their Mom would have understood what her suicide would do to them.
Fortuna Farm...the place I spent years taking riding lessons. The buildings are quite a ways off the road, but but even from here they look run down. There are horses in the pastures, but the fences look barely able to contain them. Yep, there's a "For Sale" sign. That place will fetch a pretty price, I'm sure. 50 or so acres in horse country in today's market. I'm sure within a year the outbuildings will be gone and there will be a huge mansion in their place. I suddenly realize how far I am from my childhood home. A good 2 miles at least. I used to walk here every Saturday for my riding lesson. The roads only had 1/2 as many houses on them at the time, it was mostly just alphalfa fields. Wow, that's a long walk for a little girl!
A mile further...The Condon's...they were the first family I ever knew with 4 kids. Not only that, they were all girls. Their mom was of Spanish decent and the house was sorta 70's Spanish architecture. I loved going to that house! For one thing, they had a Shetland pony named Star who I could ride whenever I wanted. I loved their girls. By the time they moved in my brother and sister were getting ready to graduate high school, but I was only in 3rd grade or so. Their house was lively and full of girlie stuff. It's their mother who gave me the idea of a "Sunday Box" when I had my own kids. At the Condon's house, if you left something out, say your favorite Barbie or your diary, it got put into the Sunday box and you couldn't have it back until the following Sunday!
Medina Road...this is the road. There's the Brown's house. I never understood that place. Probably the most run down shack I'd ever known as a child, yet they owned what is now the biggest garbage company in the state. There was money there, but no evidence of it. They were also the kids I wasn't supposed to play with but I did anyway. Looking back I know why, but as a little girl I didn't understand.
Across the road is the Romfo house. Well, the driveway anyway. It's a very steep hill and the house sits far back out of sight. They had two boys, and I remember playing at their house all the time. They had a Boxer named Brutus and lots of horses. I played there all the time since for many years they were the only kids in the area my age. Shortly after I graduated from high school they sold the house. Only their teenage son forgot, and came "home" drunk from a party in the dead of winter and couldn't figure out why he couldn't get inside the vacant house. The next morning the new owner found him frozen in a snowbank. I heard he ended up loosing his hands and feet. Later I would babysit the kids of the new owners, and then the house burned down. The driveway still looks very vacant, and there is no mailbox, so I guess nobody rebuilt back there. (edited to add: I had most of this story correct. Here's article I found about Scott Romfo who was frozen to death and brought back to life.)
The Rasmussens...now THEY were people to get in trouble with! They had one girl and a few boys, all older than me, but I hung out with the daughter. I remember when her mom had a surprise pregnancy. She was VERY OLD..like FOURTY!!! LOL Funny how we perceive things as a child.
And just up the hill, there is our driveway. You used to be able to see the side of the house from the field, but the trees have all grown up. It's only been 6 years or so since Mom and Dad sold it, but I don't remember those trees being so full. I stop at the top of the driveway, suddenly aware that this might bother someone...a chick on a bike peering through the trees at the home below. It occurs to me that my impression of that house growing up was probably very different than of other people's. I remember going to the homes of some of my friends, like the Condon's, and being impressed by their houses. Yet here is the house I grew up in, that when my parents finally sold it was well over 6,000 square feet. I wonder what my friends and their parents thought of our house? To me it was just a house.
From here I can see the corner where I wiped out on my bike when I was 7, getting entangled and stuck until the Romfo's mom found my laying there sobbing, bloody and bruised. The same corner where I made friends for life with the Hind girls that moved there in the 5th grade, and moved away again in the 8th. I put my foot down on the driveway, the same driveway where I learned to ride my first two wheeler. This driveway where I stood every school morning for 12 years waiting for the bus that I can still smell.
Sadly, today I can't really see the house, the trees are still too thick with leaves. But I realized that while I set out to see THIS house, the memories I was searching for were in all the houses along the way. They were in the trees that hid my brother, sister and I as we threw tomatoes at cars. They were in the fields where I rode my horse first as young girl, then later as a teenager to visit my boyfriend. My memories were in the very twists and turns that my body still remembered. I was coming to see a house, but instead I found so much more.