I had every step of Thornburg memorized from my house on Alvin all the way past Fesler, down to Cypress. I'd go down this street to go to junior high, to church, to my beloved library. I'd fallen on it (and scraped my knee pretty badly), hit a truck while riding my bike, gazed at cute, unattainable neighbor boys, and made friends with its inhabitants. As I grew older, Thornburg was where I strolled with my first love and where he stole his first kiss on my cheek. It was a street that featured in my dreams and nightmares long after I moved away from my hometown. And though I wasn't much of an adventurer, this was a street that I could travel with complete ease because I knew what was around every corner.

But this post isn't necessarily about Thornburg. Thornburg was the way that I went to another hallowed part of my child hood: Veteran's Memorial Park. I have a lot of stories to say about that place from my childhood to my teenage days. When I was 5, my brother broke a bottle over my head there; I discovered that I had not invented the word carnation inside the Veteran's Memorial Hall; and later on, I made out with my boyfriend behind the bushes at the back of the hall. But this is more about the playground at the park.

Veteran's Memorial Park had a sand playground in the shape of a large oval. The playground had a merry-go-ring, a slide shaped like a rocket, balancing rails, and monkey bars. I would hold my breath every time as I rounded the corner on El Camino, wondering if I would see children playing at the park. This thrill of anticipation was sometimes too much to bear. When I would see them, I would get so happy. They were usually kids I didn't know, so there was no fear that they would think I was strange or reject me. I was the most outgoing child you could imagine on these days. I don't remember a single name of the children I played with on those days. But they validated my existence. They made me feel like in an alternate reality, I could be a normal person and have friends just like everyone else. Their happiness in my presence was as narcissistic as any mirror, but more innocent than that. THEY were my first social experiments, and for that I write about them and thank these anonymous beings.

Having friends now reminded me of those days, and about the park, and about Thornburg. I looked up the area on Google Maps and realized that I had so much history within one square mile of this area. My cousin and best friend Evelyn lived on Lincoln, the next street parallel to Thornburg on the east. My friend Terry Villapondo lived three houses down from her, and I once lived in an apartment on El Camino and Lincoln with my stepdad Bill, mom, and siblings. Parallel to Lincoln on the east was Broadway, where I got hit by a car when I was 5, which is also where Bill's Takeout was (best fries ever).

For now, the reminiscing ends.


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