This is a short memoir written a ways back
It rests atop a tarnished metal pole, saved only by the reflective coating that defies every ounce of dust brought on by haboob season. West Charleston Avenue, the marker of my childhood. A one lane road paved by what appears to have been a collection of people who’ve never handled asphalt or operated heavy machinery a day in their life. Heat waves glow off the surface of the street, resonating through homes and the tray of cookies on your car dashboard, melting sandals and frying eggs. The floor is lava.
The sidewalk, however close to white, but still not quite white, as it was, proved to dispel most of the heat that was trapped in the street. Though, if you were to rest in one place you’d feel yourself being lifted like Marylin Monroe’s dress as the heat rises into the sky with daunting power. Twelve houses from the end, that’s where you’ll find me. Well, it’s only four houses if you come from the opposite end that’s not attached to 31st Ave, but I digress. You’ll be able to tell it from the others due to the ever-flying Ohio State Buckeyes flag (or maybe the US flag, depending upon how patriotic my dad is feeling), and, of course, the massive red front door mocking the lava that flows through our streets.
There’s a front yard split into three parts; one rather short two lane driveway stained from the various coats of paint that visited the house, and two unequal parts rock. It was a beautiful yard, always a brighter addition to the neighborhood with the Mom in charge. So beautiful, in fact, that it would bring to life an unwanted infestation of weed; the kind of weeds that I’d be hunched over picking once a week. Thankfully, I always had my trusty CD player, which would eventually turn into a neon green iPod nano, to keep my ears company during those days.
Spiked deep into the rocks (but not deep enough), just next to the driveway, stands a regulation height basketball hoop that we forcibly turned into a less-than-regulation height basketball hoop. It must’ve been a combination of our weight and the heat of the Sun beating down on the hoop that forced it into a perpetual imitation of Pisa’s Leaning Tower. Maybe it was all the elbows in the face, maybe it was my small frame’s inability to get past my massive brothers, but I chose to play baseball instead… for a moment.
A patio of various laid bricks near the front door rests behind a row of bushes that can’t seem to figure out if they want to live or not. The patio houses a bench, a few chairs, and a few coffee tables with various cacti and ash trays scattered about. It’s one of the more beautiful arrangements mother has created, though there’s never been anyone to sit there in leisure, except for a crying friend in need. The main attraction is always going to be that big red door, decorated to resemble the most recent of holidays.
A big red door that leads into the welcome room, the living room, or even just the room for childhood living; regardless of what you call it, you’ll probably be living. This is the place to be when you’re growing up within the Herron household. Movies, music, exercise, holidays, board games, hide and seek, getting attacked by your brothers, late night sneaking around when you’re supposed to be asleep, and you can never forget the crashes into tables that result in permanent forehead injuries.
A raised, and oddly carpeted, dining room that was very wisely turned into the main living room area for the family. The biggest tv your child-like eyes could’ve ever laid eyes on, until you went to a store and saw a much bigger one. It’s a nice tv though, resting atop countless cases of movies fit for any occasion; it’s especially perfect for when you need to cook dinner and have a “living room” three feet in front of you. Plus, it’s a moment away from the bathroom that’s entire function was turned into a moot point the moment father decided all of his clown paintings should be hung in there. Apparently 15 years of being a rodeo clown didn’t warrant putting these in his own bathroom.
A bedroom so personal and unique, purple and incomplete, due to the artistic stylings of Mother, that one could escape all of the horrors of the world and feel complete warmth and protection within; as long as the lights were on. Thankfully, this room is fully equipped to allow a young child to dive through the darkness and demons, and into their bed, in less than one step. Well, once they finally learn to take that leap.
Just outside the window rests a backyard flooded with grass, weeds, a bunch of goddamn mesquite seeds and thankfully, due to the six foot high walls that border the property, no lava. Portable baseball plates riddle the backyard from a friendly 1v0 game that took place hours before; you’d be surprised who the MVP was. Hanging over in the dugout, the one right next to the Widowmaker just waiting to fall, is a tire swing fashioned into the shape of a horse. Perfect for swinging back and forth, swinging in circles, and puking everywhere once you’re finally allowed off. Nowadays, though, it’s so dried out that the rubber crumbles to the touch.
An easy-to-get-to rooftop with a torn up paper stamped “FAIL” spread out across the right side, provides easier access to the other side of the roof that holds the warm embrace of a rising desert sun. We children of Charleston stand atop our roofs still feeling the heat from the lava below and the sun above; our finger’s spread out, index clenched, left hand in the shape of a G. We represent the people of 31st and Grovers, a collective inspiration of a native son, 31G.