The best memories don’t come from the moments you expect yourself to remember forever. Sure, class of 2020 is missing some of our most important moments, prom, graduation, walking the halls for the last time, and for many their senior games. But I think it’s the bitter sweet moments where just for a millisecond you wish you could take a picture in your brain and remember who you are, how you felt, and how life was in this moment that you will never get back. I think it’s the moments where you realize that it’s not just the place you’ll miss, you’ll miss the people you love that made this space so special. But most importantly, you’ll miss the person you were at this time at this place, because in this moment, the person you are, you will never be again. Today, Monday, April 27th, 2020; I stood in the Pinewood parking lot with my best friend. The person I had gone to Pinewood with, the person I cried with when she was no longer going to Pinewood with me, the person I cried with over mean girls, and then dumb boys, and lastly, over never getting to wear our prom dresses. As I stood in this parking lot, I thought about how places bring people together, and while I think every day about the goodbyes I am missing right now, it is the goodbyes from the people that live just down the street that will be the hardest. As I stood there and couldn’t even hug my best friend, while we wore our college jackets and took pictures for decision day, since I will not be taking them in Dulaney’s senior lot this year, like every class before me; I thought how while I get to be with the ones I love in my own household, I do not get to be with the ones I love who live in other households, because love does not stop when a door closes. So, while today is an important memory, I cannot sum up all of the memories that each and every person, in each and every house, on each and every street in this neighborhood have given me. Here are my memories from all these places, because there is not one single instance that can sum up the magnitude of love and life I have received from this neighborhood. In this neighborhood I learned who I want to be when I grow up, and now, I am grown up. As I head off to college to get my degree in communications, I plan to get a job that can pay for a house on a street like mine, in a neighborhood like mine, to give my children the memories I was lucky enough to receive. While I have spent my time between jobs at Springdale Swim Club lifeguarding for 4 years, and junior coaching swim team for 4 years, working at Brick Bodies teaching swim lessons for two years, and at Brawner Builders interning for a year; plus spending my time at school in the One Love Club for three years- which I became a facilitator this year- in Future Business leaders of America, in Allied bowling for two years, running fall JV cross country and spring track for a year, and participating in morning workouts for a year, I was always happiest when I was home, in Pine Valley.
This is Pine Valley through my eyes;
I still remember the day I moved into my house on Sandee Rd. I had just turned 7 the week before and said goodbye to all of my first-grade friends from my old school. As I sat on the floor of my closet eating pizza with the people my mom called our new neighbors, I did not know anything about what Sandee Rd, and the rest of the neighborhood would bring me.
Overtime, the neighbors I ate pizza with that day would turn into family. We grew together and learned how important distance truly is when you really only need one egg or cup of flour and it’s not worth going to the store. Sometimes I think we were all raised as one by many different parents since we spent so much time at each other’s houses. Six of us were referred to as the “Sandee Rd six pack” because we spent so much time together.
From ‘blizzard parties’ to ‘driveway parties’ and everything in between, this neighborhood has opened itself to me with open arms. Endless nights of sitting around fire pits and playing cops and robbers until we swore we could see the sun coming up formed a childhood we could brag about. The memories of creating snow tunnels during blizzards and only shoveling enough sidewalk just to be able to get to each other’s houses will stick with me through every snow. Not every neighborhood you can run power lines across the street and borrow your neighbors power to run your refrigerator when the power is out, because not every neighborhood is filled with as much love and compassion as ours.
To 212 Sandee Rd; In this house I had my first sleepover at only 4 years old, in this house I learned that I am one of the best tree climbers. In this house I ate countless s’mores and spent countless hours filling the air with laughter. In this house I listened to the adults talk about hard topics, such as politics. In this house I cried when you cut down the tree out front that we used to climb every day, and when your tore down the swing set, we used to playhouse in. In this house I spent hours on the trampoline until I had bruises from playing too rough with the older kids. In this house I said my first goodbye to someone leaving for college. In this house I have laughed, cried, and grown as a person over the years.
To 2204 Forrest Ridge Rd; In this house I sent my best friend off to prom. In this house I was scared to use the basement bathroom but overcame the fear. In this house I stayed up late watching horror movies every weekend for as long as I can remember. In this house I learned about your best friend leaving and going to a different school than you. In this house I put on countless fashion shows and played hours of music with my fake band; until we broke up over a fight about the drums. In this house I have felt so much love that I will forever carry with me.
To 202 Sandee Rd; In this house is the food we always borrow when we are out. In this house lives the man who came over in his bathrobe to help me when I needed stitches in my foot, only to come home from the hospital and still see him in his bathrobe washing the rug I had soaked in blood. In this house there was a wedding that filed into the street and showed me what love and marriage really was. In this house I spend every Christmas morning in my pajamas laughing and celebrating with others and realizing what Christmas is all about. In this house I learned what God truly meant when he said “love thy neighbors” because they showed me how to treat others.
To 216 Sandee Rd; In this house I left my own body indent on the couch from sleeping over so many times. In this house I let myself in, as if I lived there. In this house I have come over to eat dinner when my parents were not home. In this house I have loaded up the car and left for vacation to many places. In this house I have cried over boys, school, and bullies, always knowing love will be the response. In this house lives the people who took me on vacation every summer for as long as I can remember. In this house is the basketball hoop that cracked the windshield that day it got pulled down. In this house is a drawer of my own clothes for when I stay over. In this house is the knowledge that I will always have a bed to sleep in and a meal to eat. In this house lives by best friend who will be the hardest goodbye when I leave.
Typically, a neighborhood is a place where others reside in geographical relation to you. Typically, neighbors say hello to you in passing, and get your mail for you when you’re out of town. To me, Pine Valley has been atypical. It has been loving and caring. I entered Pine Valley so many years ago with friends, and next fall, I will exit Pine Valley with family. Stopping to say goodbye to Pinewood where it all began, and the stream that we used to walk through every day. Stopping to say goodbye to the grass that has never recovered from the block party water slides, and the burn marks on driveways from too many drive way parties, but mostly stopping to say goodbye to the people who raised me, the people who have treated me as one of their own, and the people I will say see you later to, instead of goodbye. So lastly,
To Pine Valley; In this neighborhood I have grown, I have run, I have climbed, I have stumbled, I have fallen, and I have gotten back up. In this neighborhood I have become who I am alongside the people I love, while watching them become who they are. In this neighborhood I have spent so much time loving life, and now I am ready to see what else life must hold for me.