I was in Austin, my hometown, for work this week and had a few minutes to check out some of my old stomping grounds on my way out of town, and wow let me tell you, I felt all the things. First and foremost, I love that city and miss it pretty much everyday (but I love Fort Worth too so you know, all good). Second, I took the time to go check out my childhood neighborhood and the home I grew up in and it was a serious blast from the past. The best stroll down Memory Lane.
As I navigated my way to my old neighborhood, I drove down Neenah Ave. (which did not go all the way through to my old neighborhood when I lived there. It was a dead end that his since been extended) I couldn’t help but smile as I passed my best friend’s parents’ house (shoutout Ashley) and thought about all of the silly, fun things we would do there (and some not so fun, like my first experience with vodka…yeah NOT fun), like games of cops and robbers with our friends, game and movie nights, and all the sleepovers that ended with breakfast taco trips to Juan in a Million.
Next, I passed the Catholic church in which a couple hundred 19-20 year old kids and a devastated family said goodbye to Kylie, one of my dearest friends, and her sweet brother, Ryan Murphy in 2014. While I immediately remembered the sadness and raw pain of that period of time, I also remembered how we were all there for each other, and how we learned to take care of each other and truly value the people in our lives. All of us. My best friends from high school all converged on my house when we got into town from our respective colleges and we cried and laughed and hugged and cried and laughed some more, my best friend and roommate drove down from Lubbock with me to attend the funeral, my best male childhood friend, Garrett, showed up at my door with flowers and we both hugged each other and cried, and classmates I hadn’t spoken to in years were all reaching out and traveling into town to pay their respects and aid the Murphy family as best they could. It was a tragic dose of reality, but I will always be amazed and proud of the support and love from that community.
I then passed the Catholic school that Ashley and I climbed on the roof of one summer night. We climbed up the fire escape and trekked across the angled roof until we found a spot comfortable enough to lay and look at the stars. All the while, terrified we would get arrested for trespassing. Next, came the water tower. There is absolutely nothing special about this water tower except I always knew that was where my old street was. I’d be able to look at that tower from miles away and know that my house was right there down the street. I passed countless houses of old friends and classmates and finally made my turn onto Ephraim Road.
The entire street is frozen in time. Every house looks exactly the same as it did in the 1990s-2000s, including my old house. The only thing that had changed were the cars parked in the driveway. It had the same green door and the original red shutters. In a matter of seconds, I had time traveled back to my childhood. I thought of picking tangerines off the tree my parents planted with my Meme, sliding down the curved staircase in a sleeping bag with my sister, my big bedroom with kitten wallpaper (because why would young Haley have anything other than kitten wallpaper in her room?), playing in the front yard with all the neighbors, all the pets we loved and lost (seriously, ALL the pets. Cats, dogs, guinea pigs, hermit crabs, chameleons, turtles, a ferret, and even a small garden snake I found in the backyard…which only lasted a short while until my mom made me put it back where it came from), the spot in front of the stairs where our big Christmas tree would go every year, and trying on my mom’s high heels in her closet and talking about how I couldn’t wait to be a businesswoman too someday. I thought of all the memories and life lived in that house that helped shape me into the young adult I am today.
It’s hard to believe that sensitive, care-free, ambitious little girl would navigate the hardships and completely awesome wins she has to become who I am today, and wonder how they’ll help me become who I’ll be tomorrow. I’ll always be grateful for that red brick house with the green door and all of the life that happened in it.
What makes you nostalgic? What things, people, places, songs, events in your life invoke a trip down Memory Lane? Let me know below!