During the last week, which was the first in my new house, I've been confronted with a sound that - once I heard it - made me realize I hadn't heard it in ten years, since moving from Orange County, where I grew up. Now that I live at the end of a cul-de-sac, which is more conducive to children playing in the street, that's exactly what happens everyday, starting around 3 p.m., until around 9 p.m.
When the windows are open in my house (and even when they're not, sometimes) the sound of mariachi music and screaming children waft into my house, filling it with the sound of people living their lives.
I don't know what it was like where you grew up, but in my little neighborhood, immediately upon arriving home from school, or upon waking up in the summer, we'd head outside to the little parking lot which our townhouses encircled, and resume whatever dramatic game or discussion we had been entranced in the day before.
And it was dramatic. I once punched my next-door neighbor Sanaz (who was like a sister to me from around age 6 until about age 15, whom I've barely spoken to since) in the nose, after she kicked me in the stomach during a heated argument. We'd put on ridiculous plays for our patient parents (most of whom were single, working mothers), or play made-up games in one of our houses on rainy days when all our mothers were at work, and we had the run of the house. Once we drew all over Vanessa's kitchen walls, which seemed perfectly okay since they were being wallpapered over the following weekend. It wasn't okay.
Although there were kids who would waft in and then out of our lives, after moving to the neighborhood for a year or so, only to be whisked away by their parents to some other part of the country, never to be heard from again, there were a few girls who were permanent fixtures in my life throughout my childhood. Those girls (who included my sister) taught me how to ride a bike. We were the masters of our free time, those precious hours between the ending school bell at 2:15 p.m. and going to bed late at night. And with little to no supervision or rules, we'd ride around our small town with nary a helmet or curfew in sight.
When I hear the kids who live in my new neighborhood playing out front, it makes me happy. I had heard neither hide nor hair of such a thing since escaping the suburbs immediately following high school, and I hadn't realized how much I missed it until I heard it for the first time when I moved into my new house. As long as they don't have screaming contests like my friends and I used to, then I'm really happy to be living in such a neighborhood.