This morning I was woken up by my mother and my dog at 7 am. This is not an unusual practice in our family. I can remember my mom coming into my room on summer mornings before the sun was up and urging me get up or I would miss out on something that day had to offer. I can remember a time when 24 hours seemed like an eternity, when waking up at 6:30 was difficult, but I did it because I didn't want miss a single minute of summer. Now, 24 hours feels like it's never enough for everything I have to do, but this morning, when I opened my eyes in the half darkness and was practically jumped on by my dog, I was suddenly brought back to those days in summers past when I would dress groggily in shorts and a t-shirt, slip on some tennis shoes, and go for a long walk down Alder. This morning was just the same.
Alder is our favorite street to walk down. It's the closest thing we have to alley, a wide expanse of road with no curbs, lined by lush, un-manacured foliage and interspersed with garage doors and glimpses of people's backyards. Spring is in full swing now, and this morning Alder felt more like a jungle than a barely used street in our usually pristine neighborhood. The air was humid but cool, and all around us were the sounds of bird calls: woodpeckers, mockingbirds, doves, cardinals, blue jays, purple martins. Overhanging trees lush with new green leaves rose from behind chain-link fences and stretched lanky arms out over the street. Even today I caught myself thinking, "This is where the fairies live."
Sometimes I feel like when you reach a certain age people start pushing you to grow up: teachers expect more from you, college becomes a major topic of conversation with every adult you meet, your friends get summer jobs and show off pictures of their new cars on Facebook. And that's good. Great actually. Fun. Exciting. And yet, walking down Alder, I couldn't help thinking about a time when I played with dolls, and spent hours on the swing in the front yard, and went on expeditions in search of fairies. Part of me knows that I'll never have the same freedom I had when I was little, the same feeling of skipping through life without a care in the world, but I know somewhere inside me is that little girl with the wide eyes and the insatiable imagination. And all I really need are a few more Sunday morning walks to find her again.