I learned last night that my oldest daughter had “drama club” after school today. Conveniently, most of the drama club meetings happen to land on the couple of nights that I have my oldest two daughters.
*For those that have never been here before—I’m divorced—and remarried. I have two daughters with my ex-wife and two daughters with my new wife, as well.*
Anyways, her drama club is all the way on the other side of town from her school, but actually pretty close to where I grew up. I don’t go to my old stompin’ ground very often, because the house I grew up in isn’t there anymore. When I was twenty years old, my parent’s house burned down. They weren’t home at the time, and my sister and I had already moved out, so luckily nobody was hurt. However, a lot of memories were lost that day.
After I dropped her off at her class, I had about an hour and a half to waste. I didn’t feel like driving all the way back home, so I decided to drive towards my old town, my old school, my old home. It was bittersweet looking at the mostly empty lot. There is now a small white church on the south end of my old yard. The driveway I learned to ride my bike on is nonexistent. The grapevine I ran into full-speed and broke my nose (pretty sure) is no longer there either. All that remains is grass, a slab where our disconnected garage used to be, and a few bushes and trees. Across the street is now an empty lot too. There used to be two homes over there. I have no idea what happened to them.
My second oldest daughter and I drove around the small town, and I pointed out where a few of my best friends growing up lived. I showed her the old rock quarry where we used to go to shoot fireworks. I showed her my old school, a couple of parks, and the old city hall/police station. She was excited to learn about my history, and it was especially exciting for me to tell her.
We laughed together as I told stories of my past. I told her how my friends and I used to sneak out at night and roamed the town. I showed her the house of the guy I got into a fist fight with in 7th grade. I showed her the house of an old friend of mine, and even pointed out his dad who was sitting in a bench at the end of his driveway. My favorite part of this blast to the past, however, was showing her a very special tree.
In third or fourth grade (it was a long time ago, ok?) we were all given a small twig-like tree. It was for Arbor Day. They asked us kids to go home, plant the tree, and watch it grow. This tree was probably less than one foot tall when I planted it. It is now around 25 years later, and THIS is MY tree:
It is truly one of the things that I can look back on, and physically see with my own eyes, that I did something positive. I know it’s not much. I know it sits on an empty lot. But it is still standing tall, and I am extremely proud of it. I’m glad our teachers gave us that tree, and I’m glad my daddy took the time to help me plant it. I was especially proud to show it to my daughter…