2006.01.30

Cunningham Elementary School

I grew up in the military and so one of the realities of my childhood was moving around every couple years. It never occurred to me that I might have the opportunity to visit a place I’d lived once I’d left. The exception was Seoul, and only because my parents moved back there.

Until now. I knew I was going to be in Austin visiting Ann, so I made a point of getting the address of our old house from Dad. I had already found my old elementary school on a map but couldn’t remember exactly where we lived.

Cunningham
The Cunningham Cobras

Yesterday morning Ann and I went there. It was an interesting experience. I definitely remember the school, and even the playground set on the side. The expansion trailers I didn’t recognize until I saw them from the school facing side. I won’t say the whole experience hit me like a hammer, but I definitely felt a bit strange seeing these memories of a child on an adult scale.

We then walked to my old house. I was surprised at how close to the school it was. As a kid I remember Chris and I would “run away” from home when we were mad at Mom and Dad. We’d stuff pillow cases full of random stuff (toys mostly) and hike off to the school until it got to be dinner time when our stomachs argued that running away from home wasn’t worth a free meal.

Our street looks completely different. The hill leading down to where we lived, for example, is of such a gentle gradient that I doubt a tennis ball would roll half way down. Yet as kids we used to go all the way to the top and ride our bikes down screaming like wild animals because we “knew” the hill would add uncontrollable speed to our rides.

Another thing about the street that surprised me is that there were trees. I don’t remember any trees on our street when we lived there, and it’s possible there were none. There are trees now, though, that almost connect and create a canopy over the street. Maybe I don’t remember trees because as a kid I never really looked up. Except for adults and my bunk bed my world was under four feet.

The house looked a lot different that I remembered. That could be partly because I mostly remember the inside of the house, not the outside. I don’t remember the garage, either. It’s so sad how memories diminish with time.

I’m glad I came back. It’s a strange and unexpected visit, but well worth it. I might have to do this with other places If I’m given half a chance…

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