For those of us who moved around as kids, our feet never firmly planted in one house or school for long, there is always that one home out of many where we learned the most, loved the most, and made the most memories. For me, it was a house we moved into at the end of my fourth-grade year in school. Our current neighborhood housed homes from another century, and you could stick your hand out your bedroom window and grab your neighbor’s hand from their bedroom window. They were that close! But now, we were headed to a new suburb outside our city.
Surrounded by pastures (with sheep, horses, and cows still grazing) we thought we’d moved to the country! Our new split-level house was much bigger than the old one, and still smelled of fresh paint the day we moved in. A group of neighborhood kids played ball in our new front yard as we pulled up to unload the car. I felt I’d made friends that very night!
That first summer in our new neighborhood held much adventure! We played in the woods separating our development from the next, sneaked through the cow pastures as a shortcut home, rode bikes for hours each day, stopping to pick wild strawberries along the path. We even explored the old graveyard hidden in a grove of oaks. With white-washed stones naming the early settlers of the area, it was like stepping into an old, forgotten time and place. I met two new friends whose first names were also Lisa, frustrating our teacher that fall and leading to exasperating pleas that two of us go by our middle name in class. That never happened!
We lived simply. We had no video games, and we walked or rode bikes everywhere we went. We lived outside when the weather was warm and the neighborhood mothers were ready to correct us for bad behavior if our own mom wasn’t around. They watched out for us too, and we felt safe.The day the tornado struck only one mile away, we all gathered in my next-door-neighbor’s basement with several of the adults til the storm passed. Somewhere tucked away are pictures of us kids smiling and running in the rain that followed the tornado.
Today I live only a few miles away, and I still drive by that neighborhood. It looks much smaller now, and everyone I knew moved away long ago. But when a summer storm rolls in, or I hear an old song on the radio, or the music of an ice cream truck as it coasts down the street, I am right back on Hillmont Road.
There is more to my story; this is where I gave my heart to Jesus at a backyard Vacation Bible School during one of those summers. Several christian families made their homes in our neighborhood and they saw to it that we were part of the group attending VBS. It took time for my faith to grow–years, really. But God had His hand on me as I grew.
They say we leave a piece of us everywhere we live and I think that may be true. We left our subdivision when I was in eighth grade, and I had to start over again at another new school, making new friends. It was the hardest move I made as a child and I cried for days. I finally lost touch with my friends from Hillmont Road. I guess we all grew up. I am thankful for that split-level house, those neighborhood kids, and most of all for my relationship with God, and those who helped me find Him.