Yesterday I drove through my old neighborhood, past the house in which I lived from age 10 until I graduated from college. It’s only a few miles from where my husband and I live now, but I hadn’t been there in a long time.
My family lived in a relatively new development off Division Street, named because it divided the town of East Greenwich from the city of Warwick. East Greenwich had more cachet then, as it still does, but we lived in Warwick. Still, we were close enough to walk to “downtown” East Greenwich (Main Street), and used the East Greenwich zip code, so I suppose we rode some of that cachet.
The builder of the homes named the streets after local historical figures: Varnum Drive was named after James Varnum, a General in the Continental Army during the
Revolutionary War. Gen. Nathanael Greene was another. I turned left onto Varnum Drive and stopped in front of our old house. The rock garden my mother had started and lovingly tended was now covered with flowers and shrubs, and the pine trees my father had planted alongside the driveway in 1970 looked to be at least 50 feet high.
As I drove slowly in this quiet neighborhood, I said aloud the names of the families who lived in the houses: Wesselhoeft, Banas, Jordan, Baccari, Norton. It amazed me that I could name every family as I drove around the circle. We knew who our neighbors were, even if they didn’t have school-age children, even if they kept to themselves. Riker,
Lamontagne, Goluses, Pitts. I remembered them all.
With memories rushing in like water burst from a dam, I completed the circle and headed back onto Division Street, towards home. As I turned into the condo development we now call home, I smiled, passing each townhouse and not having a clue who lived there. With the exception of our closest neighbors, in Units 40, 41, 42, and 43, I have no idea who my neighbors are.