Raise your hand if you have one certain street that, whenever you drive on it, ten-million memories start popping up. That’s what happened to me today. Normally just a few thoughts come to mind as I drive down First Avenue. It’s one long, straight street that starts in Des Moines, heads north through Normandy Park, through Burien, and into White Center. Unforgettable. With the house I grew up in in Normandy Park being just one street away from First Avenue, it’s impossible not to picture it every time I’m on that street. Being as I still live in the neighborhood, that happens often. But today my brain was ignited with memory after memory. My book that is in the process of getting published, Lord willing, describes those many years on that dead-end street. Eighteen years filled with many ups and, yes, a few downs, growing up there.
All of the memories began one day. I was five, in our car’s backseat, as my family pulled up to that house for the first time, after our long drive from California. I’ll never forget when I finally got to see what my dad had tried to explain to us. That house felt like a mansion to me. When my parents, plus four of my six siblings and I pulled up, with snow covering the ground, I felt like I was on cloud nine. Looking out my upstairs bedroom window for the first time seems like yesterday, along with remembering I was wearing one of my favorite dresses.
A few years later, at the bottom of our driveway, I met some twin girls a few years older than me, who had just moved into the house at the very end of that dead-end street. Those few minutes turned into years of, as I totally see it now, God-given friendships. When I was about ten, they were fourteen, we all three took swimming lessons a few miles away. We had to walk to-and-fro each time. Our goal was to, hopefully, one day ride our bikes there and back. There was no way we could do that at the start. But as weeks and weeks went by, we were slowly getting stronger, able to ride our bikes more than pushing them. That meant a lot if you knew how uphill it was much of the way home. We finally proved we could ride our bikes both ways! It might have been our last swimming lesson, but boy, that sure felt good. WOOHOO!
No way could I not think of the Highline Times newspaper-delivery job I had. It was impossible not to think of that today as I drove right by the place on First Avenue that I, along with other thirteen- and fourteen-year-olds, gathered our batch of newspapers. Yep. Two days a week. Kind of fun gabbing with the others before we all went our separate ways. Thankfully, whose bike was the coolest didn’t really matter. My bike and I were best of friends way back then.
First Avenue was connected to so many memories, from walking on it with the twins all the way to Burien with snow everywhere,to the very first time driving on that same street, by myself, with my brand spanking new drivers license in my purse. Being my house was just one block away from the entrance to First Ave., I was right there at least twice a day. What was neat was when that horse that lived right at that corner would be right on the other side of the fence, staring right at me. So sad when those people moved and a house replaced that horse’s property. I still cannot drive by there without picturing that beautiful horse.
My last few blogs have been about how Encephalitis, sort of out of nowhere, showed up and yes, that part for sure came to mind as I drove down First Avenue today as well. Why? Because God wanted me in that home, right off of First Avenue, when He showed everyone His plan. He knew it would be best if I was in my parents’ house that was only a few blocks from Highline Hospital.
God knows all the inside smiles I make when I think about that street, that turn, that home, my family and friends. My journals have helped me remember all that went on during those eighteen or so years I lived there and the many years after, going there often to visit my parents. Even my own children have memories there as well. From my first day there to my last day there, my journals hold many memories I’ll never forget.
Most of the time I didn’t understand that God was using those years to turn me into who I am today. But after God turned my heart around so that I could see His hands in everything, learning that He had reasons for where, when, and with whom I grew up with, He had me see just how important that neighborhood really was… and still is.