While in Texas for Josh's funeral, we had some time to burn.
We decided to drive around the once small town, which has more then tripled in size since we packed up our U-Haul and drove away in the early 80's, and reminisce about our childhood stomping grounds.
I was in first grade, a mere 6 years old, when we moved to California, where I would spend the rest of my growing up years.
While I'll always consider Stockton, Ca my hometown, McKinney, Tx will always hold a special place in my heart.
As we drove and walked down the familiar roads of my first recollections of this earth, memories came flooding back to me like forgotten whispers of another lifetime.
I stood and stared into the very pecan trees which so willingly gave me their fruit from the time I was a toddler.
The trees themselves seems to greet me, to recognize me and welcome me back.
It was such a surreal feeling, the paths begged me to walk down them, part of me didn't ever want to get in the car and drive away.
There was a longing in me that I can not put into words, I'm not sure I even understand it.
A longing to be little again, to be completely enthralled in this world that once was my every breath.
If no one had been looking I would have gone over and given those trees a huge bear hug.
I did, however, bend down and move the dead leaves aside to find some of the little pecans that were left over from last Summer's harvest.
I gathered a few of those little gems and slipped them into my pocket.
A token of my visit, a tangible remembrance of a time long ago.
We stood on the lot of our old home, which within the last year had been torn down.
In it's place, in true hick fashion, is a double wide trailer.
That was hard to see.
My dad had built that house just for our growing family over 30 years ago, this was before the divorce.
The house sat on 3/4 of an acre in the middle of no where at the end of an old dirt road.
We had a few neighbors, but they all seemed to live far, far away.
Our yard itself seemed as big as the whole Texas sky to my small self.
My whole world consisted of that yard and surrounding dirt paths.
I would wonder up the paths for what seemed like miles and miles in search of fallen horse apples in the ditch, while side stepping the piles of fierce fire ants.
As a grown up, I realize I never did wonder all that far from home, a few hundred yards maybe.
I was always bare footed and would come home with dirt caked thick on the bottoms of my tiny feet.
I remember sitting for hours and hours in the front yard picking up pecans that had fallen from the trees in the front yard.
I think in the late Summer I lived on those things, just like the squirrels.
I remembered going in the back yard and walking for what seemed like forever to get to the back fence.
Oh, the adventures we had back there.
I remember the hiding place for small things in the knot hole of the fence post in the back corner of the yard.
We had an old tire swing hung from a branch.
We'd get the garden hose and fill the bare dirt patch under the swing with water until it was a huge mud pit. Then we'd hang on to the bottom of the tire and slide right through the pile of mud.
We would be covered in mud head to foot.
It was the BEST!
There was a space under the cement in the back steps and frogs lived in there, hundreds of them.
We'd take the water hose and spray it into the gap and watch as distraught frogs came bounding out at an alarming rate.
Then we'd have a big glass jar just waiting and we'd scoop up as many of the frogs into the jar as we could get our hands on.
The poor things never saw it coming.
I remember walking out in the back field in the endless Summer days just as dusk was setting in and seeing the sky slowly fill with tiny flickering lights, FIRE FLIES!
We'd catch them in jars as well and bring them into our bedrooms and watch them bounce around the sides of the jar as we fell asleep.
To our complete dismay, they were always dead in the mornings.
Then there were the peacocks.
One of our neighbors was a peacock farmer.
We could hear the cry of the peacocks from sun up to sun down.
What a treasure when we'd find a fallen feather to bring home.
I remember finding turtles in the huge open fields and bringing them home, only to realize that they were snapping turtles and their bite hurt like the dickens.
We'd set them free after a few hour of tortured fun, mad that they did not know how to be nice.
I rememebered our neighbor, Arty and his pond.
We drove past the house where my younger brother had wondered to when he was just 2 or 3 and had fallen into their swimming pool, only to be rescued and dragged out by their dog.
Memories of starting school, where the bus stop was, the freak snow day waiting for the bus on "the triangle" only to find out school was canceled.
Getting stuck, wedged, in the huge tire at recess and needing rescuing by the teacher.
There were not so happy memories as well.
The divorce and all that came after.
Leaving that place, I remember being small and sitting in the backseat of the car bawling my eyes out as we drove away.
I remember the last goodby with my father. Oh, how I cried. He stayed in Texas when we moved half way across the country.
It would be many years before I'd see him again, little did I know he'd literally be going through a hell all of his own.
While I haven't lived in that place for literally a lifetime, it is a part of me, it will always be a part of me.
I wanted to soak up every memory I possibly could.
My dad's family had lived in that town for generations before me, but now everyone of us has moved away and all of my grandparents on his side have passed.
I will likely never have another reason to return that that corner of the world.
But as long as I'm living, that place will be a part of me, a part I hold very close to my heart.