Down the street lives a family of newcomer-neighbors. Parked next to their side walk is a red, bulky pickup truck that rendered its respective portion of the street only wide enough for one car to pass through at any given time. The truck is always parked there. Other neighbors do not complain, neither do you—rumor has it that the husband is afflicted with brain tumor.
The adults are rarely seen out, but ever since their move-in, this side of the community has lightened up several notches. The children of the Red-Truck residence, being such active roamers as they are, really brought about a new air in this neighborhood full of folks who have settled here since the 60’s.
The boldest of the little ones is a girl, no older than 5 or 6 by appearance; she stands out like a protagonist before a subordinate, background crowd. More so an outside kid, she is always seen sporting slightly oversized T-shirts and knee-length athletic shorts; every now and then she’d have a baseball cap on backwards—a quintessential tomboy whose childhood is fortunately left untempered.
Never prim and pretty, but she is beautiful, no amount of androgyny could mask the conspicuous elements that so clearly identify her as who she is.
In the summer, she frequently rode her bright yellow, 4×4 motorcycle. Judging by the implied personalities associated with the parked truck, one could presume that the motorbike was a result of her father’s influence. But regardless of where her habits arise from, it was evident that she naturally enjoyed speeding up and down the steady incline leading to the turnaround at the end of the street.
The 4×4, designed more for rougher outdoor terrains—was let loose on flat asphalt roads. She’d unleash waves of loud rattling throughout the neighborhood. As she made her way, one would hear the gradual amplifications her automobile’s distinctive droning: getting louder, closer, more and more vexing; then right before the noise burns through one’s last straw of tolerance, it’d slowly fade away as she drove off into the distance. The whole process would repeat; the volume of her motor revving would go up and down, getting closer and further progressively, like the affairs of a sinusoidal wave.
She’d wave her hand and smile with her dimples, showing an un-corrected set of juvenile teeth—squinting her eyes against the summer sun, she was a cheery rascal.
The fall comes and the place grows quieter. Perhaps due to some neighbors having finally made their confrontations, the Red Truck now belongs to the driveway. You often come home to a vacant scene, with no children playing in the streets. School, maybe—is summer the only and true time to rightfully be a kid?
You don’t like the mood change, for it has gotten so deflating.
Much to your surprise, a few afternoons back, as you pulled into the driveway, there she was again, walking down the street with the sun on her back; her pony tail had gotten long and frazzled, subtly fluttering from side to side as she walked in her distinctive gait.
The sight of her made you smile—how could this little person, merely a feet taller than a fire hydrant, while waddling down the sidewalk, encompass such promise and livelihood?
For a second, you couldn’t help but to have envied her untamed stage in life. Age and all that you have irreversibly become. The things that chronically cause you to beg, ‘how did I get like this?’ The things that you’ve become as time moved on; you have become them—without a clue as to how. You are terrified at how things have turned out; all the things that are seemingly stuck and cannot be shed off. Oh how you wish for an impossible shot at backtracking your steps.
But it was all okay. Just like the little tomboy is still around—just like how you and everyone else had accepted, even cherished her summer-time, deadening engine thrums.
Nothing hampers the spirit of youth, especially its embodied symbol of ever-uplifting hope. With age, certain things gray, and chance begins to offer fewer and fewer prospects, but there will always be youth to keep its neighbor’s lights on—its time defying innocence and energy manifesting themselves time after time, bearing the torch-flame of life forever long.