Untitled by ToRi Fernandez

Pembroke Pines, Florida, USA

—–
by ToRi Fernandez

A trip to the old neighborhood is like a trip back in time.
Ever since I hit high school, I’ve been obsessed with the past. Some people think that the future looks brighter. To me, it’s always been the past that was better. I guess getting bit with the nostalgia bug could be considered a right of passage. It just means that you’re growing up and finally acquiring real responsibilities in life. Yearning for the days where things were simpler is not a unique thing.

But although I knew this, there’s always a part of me that wants to go back home. For some reason, I just need some sort of reassurance that I was once a carefree kid who could be happy and have fun.

Whenever I was in the area of my old house, I would usually beg whoever it was that was driving to stop by—even just to drive through, so I could look at the tall trees that would drench everything into a cool shade—and remember the good ol’ days. Most of the time, my begging would be met with a simple “no,” along with the claim that it was too “out of the way,” which I always found to be ironic. Innocence was “too out of the way.” But one day, I finally got lucky.

After a particularly long haircut down the street from my old house in Pembroke Pines, Florida—thanks to my pickiness over who cuts my hair—my dad finally conceded defeat and headed towards our old development, Brittany Bay.

It would be cliché to say it was like a memory come to life. As if someone had taken an old home movie and projected it out the window. I leaned my head against the glass, and stared out at this place that was so familiar to me but so lost in fuzzy time that it now looked foreign.

Things have changed, of course. Shopping centers have cropped up in corners that never used to exist, and some of my beloved trees that lined the streets of the development have been cut down so that large slats of sunlight cut through the shade. But to me, with my iPod playing my favorite childhood song, it could’ve been 2001 again for all I knew. It’s like I could feel myself descending in time.

Suddenly, I’m five again, riding my pink bicycle down this road and almost getting plowed by a minivan before I drove my bike into a curb and fell into the safety of the grass.

I’m six, sitting in the back of our own minivan when a rock came sailing through the window next to me, shattering the glass.

I’m four, standing on my tippy-toes, throwing bread crumbs into the pond under the pavilion a couple feet up the road, watching fish nibble away at them.

Next to me, my dad doesn’t look as happily reminiscent as I do. In fact, he looks sort of annoyed at the fact that he had to drive this way, but didn’t mind because it was for me. Either way, as we turned onto our old street, I couldn’t quell my excitement at seeing that old berry bush on the corner, or the house where my best friend Ashley and I would play at. Even seeing the road was enough to get me excited.

I had planned to surprise my old neighbors, who were the only ones from our original Brittany Bay family that had stayed in the neighborhood. They were the most important, though. Ashley was my first best friend and had a hand in most, if not all, my favorite childhood memories.

I walked up the familiar sidewalk leading up to their house. It’s almost funny how nothing has changed in front of their house. They still have the same coral decorations lining their front walk, and perfectly cut grass.

When Ashley opens the door, the look of surprise on her face is one that I’ll never forget. That day, Ashley, her brother Jason, and I went through the old neighborhood—like old times—until the sky opened up and unleashed a downpour of rain on us.

Still, it was another one of those memories, drenched in this feeling of innocence that has been lost in the years of maturity and responsibility.