While traveling back east, I went on a tour of the historical town where I grew up. Kensington, Maryland is just six miles north of our nation’s capital. Besides being known for its gorgeous Victorian homes, Kensington is a dry town, and no alcohol can be purchased within the 3-mile radius. Oddly, Kensington possesses more alcoholics and drug addicts than you’d find in some prisons. Anyone who lives outside of Kensington is convinced there’s something in the water…
I grew up on the less historical side of town, on the quaint Ambler Dr. with my crazy loud Italian family.
Throughout my life my parent’s house was THE place for every holiday soiree, celebration and get together. I cannot begin to count the number of parties or people who passed through. In the 80s it was under surveillance, but that’s an entirely different story I’ll include in my memoir (pending my dad’s approval).
One street over was my best friend’s house where my sister and I spent most days after school, eating her father’s junk food and later in life, drinking her mother’s vodka.
A mile up the road was a convenience store called “Highs” (the quirk of fate was not wasted on us). We were never carded for cigarettes nor caught for stealing candy. One time my sister shoved a bottle of grape Slushie syrup down her pants and escaped from the store with the syrup and a box of Capt’n Crunch. Another time she left a trail of candy bars as she ran from the store. That move got us banned. Although it became a lameass 7-11, it will always be Highs.
Across the street from the corner store was our original hangout we coined as “the bank building”. We’d sit in the small alcove near the exit door for hours, smoking cigarettes and talking about boys. The employees never kicked us off their property. Maybe they felt sorry for us derelicts.
We outgrew the bank building and made our way over to the abandoned elementary school. The larger and more private alcove made smoking dope a lot more convenient.
I hadn’t been back to the old neighborhood for over six years because my asshole parents sold our family home and retired in the mountains of West Virginia. After 36 years, the revered meeting place was extricated from all of our lives, and friendships have since suffered. I have never fully recovered from this tragedy.
Keep writing. It saves lives.