Help Me Figure Out What I Wrote...
Seeds blew from the clock on the winds, a flock of wild dandelions. The honeysuckles were in full bloom on the twining vines and the sweet, sticky smell clung to windowsills and door frames. The Nebraskan humidity weighed the willow branches touching the weedy grass, hiding the neighborhood children from their parents’ peeping eyes. The boys averted egged-on kisses and the girls puckered up.
Summers inside the gate were completely unlike any summer spent outside the comfort of military guard. We were lucky to have powdered milk and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. We didn’t know though. Our parents struggled to keep us tied to reality which only encouraged us to come home covered in mud after a rainstorm, or go further up the streets than allowed.
Audrey and my sister would come up with gymnastic routines to eighties pop music and Nikki and I read every book we could borrow from the library. Our garages or sheds were clubhouses with very exclusive rosters and always with roll call. I once got the bright idea to bonk Troy in the head with a bottle – “Gunsmoke” was in syndication, and I was taking Tae Kwan Do lessons.
The military would pack us up and move us all to another street and then update the old housing. We would climb new trees, dig in new mud, befriend children new to the gates, and as we got older, make frequent trips to the gas station or walk in packs to the pool, hoping that everyone was waiting to meet us there. We kept spending our summers decorating a new space, writing up new rosters, and wishing on dandelions; probably that the summers would never end.
It all ended when we moved overseas. The surroundings changed. The sweet air in Nebraska became the neon smog of Japan. There were no willows or honeysuckles only bonsai, the complexes went from side-by-sides to towers and perhaps neighbor kids would speak in languages never heard before. I found my adolescence, but I was no more a teenager than the neighbor kids I babysat. The groups of children waned from my sister and I to me alone never stopping the summers. It perhaps, did just the opposite.
The bus system that circled the base (which took two and a half hours to cross on foot) equaled a freedom that only enhanced the summer experience. The babysitting and the bookstore opened up a new world of money to explore darker themed stories and a new novelty – comic books. A trip to the toy and hobby stores found me inundating my room with sketch pads and pencils in all colors, in all levels of softness, with potential beyond my wildest imagination. Weekdays I would visit the rental store and pour for hours through each title like each story were going to freeze time. I would carry each item to my chest like a button on my shirt as I would wait at the bus stop or walk home.
The weekends would find me at the movie theater, further adding to the escape found in the sun’s heat, and being the only evidence that I had aged to PG-13. Depending the movie’s end time, I would make my way to the baseball field. Perhaps my father was playing with his squadron, perhaps I would be alone in the field, and would lay, struggling to see just one star, only to be disappointed when they would begin to blink and cross the sky, or perhaps I would just sit on the bleachers in the light with one of my books. The field, when no one was there but me, gave me time to think of everyone, gave me time to remember everything.
The time overseas was the thesis and antithesis of every summer spent Homeland. The loneliness was idyllic and hellish, leaving me to seasons of discontent, unable to recapture the ability to interact with any who might substitute those familiar, leaving me to an unromantic adolescence. Instead of being comforted behind the gates, I built my own.
Is this an essay?
It's a work of nonfiction.
I'm just not sure it's not simply stream of conscious.