I recently listened to this podcast that encourage thinking about where you grew up or have lived for years and how it has shaped who you are.
Until college, I lived on the entrance to The Loop. As I mentioned in my last post, there was a working sandpit around the corner. The road was a big circle; everybody who lived on The Loop had to pass our house coming and going.
Lesson #1: Change can be fun and exciting.
Every once in a while, a big ‘ol dump truck would rumble by. It would shake the windows. I would grab my shoes and run as fast as I could through the shortcut between houses knowing that they were going to be hauling sand away. That meant the hills would change, some cliffs would get taller, others would disappear. I was always eager to watch because it meant that our natural playground was going to get a re-arranging.
Lesson #2: Sometimes you should listen to your Mamma.
That same sand pit had a couple of abandoned houses on the lot. They were creepy. I explored the outsides with my neighborhood girlfriends. But it was a brother who pulled away a few boards and talked me into going down the basement stairs. It probably was a dare. It was damp, dark and flooded with water. As I bolted back up the stairs, fearful of being trapped, my mom’s warning to stay away pounded in my head.
Lesson #3: Accept what you cannot change.
Kids come home dirty when they play outside. In the summer we would take cardboard boxes and slide down the sand hills. In the winter if we were lucky enough to get snow (we didn’t have much in Seattle) our dad would blow up inner tubes at the local gas station and we would sled down the side of the pit. Can you imagine having sand in your socks, underwear, shoes, hair? My mom should maybe get the saint award for letting us play there day after day. St. Ginny.
Lesson #4: Life is not perfect.
One old house by The Pit eventually got cleaned up and became a rental property. A group of bikers had moved in and often partied late into the night. One summer in high school the young paperboy was cutting through the same path I had run as a kid. He found a lady face down dead in the tall weeds. Turns out the wild party included an accidental shooting that wasn’t discovered until daylight. It wasn’t the sensation that it would be today. Since school was out, most that I grew up with probably never even heard about it.
Mainly what I remember about the pit was the freedom. I could always say I was going to The Pit and no one questioned where or what I was doing. As a kid I was filling old beer bottles with sand. As a tween I was poking around the abandoned houses and picking blackberries. As a teenager it became a place to smoke a cigarette and hang out with other neighborhood kids around a bonfire. It is where I learned to ride a horse.
I might have even had my first kiss at The Pit.