In my dream, I am leaving the area around the back of my old subdivision. I am walking home and it is early morning, just about dawn. I see each house and yard just as they looked back in the ’80s of my childhood. I can even remember the names of the people who live there.
As I round the corner of a house in a cul-de-sac about halfway between my starting point and my parents’ house, I realize that the woman who lives there is the Asian-American woman who lives down the street from me in the present day. She is the one that has a little boy about a year older than Rollie, the one whose house in my current neighborhood is up for sale because she and her husband are divorcing. (Straight couples do not do well in our neighborhood – They are all divorcing.)
The woman has her head stuck in the open door of her little Dekalb County-standard Subaru wagon, messing with a carseat, and I run through her yard on tiptoes, hoping she won’t look up and see me, and that I won’t have to talk to her. As i hit the edge of the yard and move out across the street, i pick up speed and pass the delinquent Mike Southard’s house (how am I remembering these names???) and just as I do, a 3 or 4 year-old blonde girl trips me up. I fall to the pavement, twisting as I go down, so as to catch the little girl and clutch her to my chest, protecting her head, if not mine, from the fall.
As I lay on the ground, I look at the house to my left, the one on the corner caddywampus from my house that always had loud get-togethers on the weekends, which we never really understood, because it was our understanding that the motorcycle-riding priest owned the house. The house was different somehow, and I realized it was because of the children’s toys piled haphazardly on the screened porch.
I took a breath, then helped the little girl up, took her hand in mine, and started walking to take her back home.