May 06, 2007

Colorado Childhood, 20 Years Later

This morning, my wife and I set off to Littleton, Colorado, where I had attended 1st and 2nd grade way back in the 1982-84 timeframe. We plugged in the old address into our rented Audi's GPS and sure enough, we eventually found ourselves in front of the home where my youngest brother was born and where I had engaged in many a memorable snowball fight during the winter or mudfight in the summer, if my other brother and I were let alone in the backyard with the garden and the hose for too long.

After parking, Kristine and I walked the perimeter of the property, taking a few pictures, and I tried to explain to her how the floorplan of the home was, simply by pointing and gestures. But as we were doing this, the current owner stepped out and curious, inquired what we were doing. I sheepishly explained I had lived there 20-plus years ago and was just visiting. Rather than being annoyed with us and shooing us away, he and his family invited us in to revisit the memories I had from childhood.

Though I had not given them warning, the family invited us into their home, let us venture into the backyard, as we exchanged stories, and even into the bedrooms where we had once had bunkbeds at age six in 1983, and later, where the baby, with his crib, had shared a room with me in early 1984. We walked down to the basement and relived stories of how I had emulated the pole vaulters in the Los Angeles summer Olympics with a simple broom handle, or in a more destructive time, how we had smashed our toy Tonka trucks against the cement walls of the basement.

Our visit also filled some gaps for the family, who has been at the address since 1990, only 5 or so years after we had moved on to California. I told them how during one particularly fierce thunderstorm, the basement had flooded, fatally damaging my dad's LP records, and other heirlooms, including photo albums. I told them of how the backyard fence looked, and how my mother had planted irises around its entirety, or how we had always managed to have spots of snow in the darkest shady areas, from October to May, where the sun never completely outdid the cold.

We exchanged pleasantries, and left on our way, grateful to their trust, openness and hospitality. Our next stop? Lewis Ames elementary school, where I had attended first grade. Though my memories are hazy of much that happened that year, I could have walked from home to school without trouble, and showed the playground, and the wall where I had once tossed a jean beanbag onto the roof in an effort to show off my six-year-old arm strength.

For my wife, the visit serves to help her better understand my own background, to put pictures in her mind to match my stories, and understand the occasional struggles my family went through, or the fun times as well. A California native practically her whole life, the novelty of having a "big" 100 foot by 100 foot backyard is jaw-dropping, as was the low price of some area homes, dipping into the mid-$200,000s to $300,000, where they could easily price for 3 to 4 times that in the Bay Area.

We took a few photos of both stops, as well as the LDS Denver temple, and a trip up to Boulder to see the University of Colorado campus. As soon as we synch up the camera to the computer and post the pictures, we will make them available. We've got one more day in our three day weekend before we head home.

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