At the end of my street there is a road that extends to both the left and the right for a mere quarter mile. It is not a long road, or an exceptional road, but it is a road full of seven years of memories and counting. It is a road with a pond that has a clean dock and a little white bench and a little arching bridge across the stream. It is a spring and never runs out of water.
When I get to the end of my street, the street I consider to be my home, I can turn left or right. To the right is the pond and the places to hike and the pathway where teenagers go to hook up that leads to the lake. To the left are some of the largest and oldest trees that remain in Maryland and a field full of horses that stand tall. But in either direction, the road ends. And at the end of each direction, you can again turn left or right. And in both directions at the end of both ends of that road, there is an uphill climb.
I have a daily ritual in which I ride my bike down to the end of my street. I like it because as soon as I pull out of my driveway itís downhill for a half mile. And I donít have to pedal once before I hit the end. And Iím going really fast with my shirt and my hair blowing behind me and itís like Iím flying, like I can escape anything that might be thrown my way, like I can just go a little faster and float away into the air where I never have to come down. And then I hit the end of the street and I turn right. Every time. And I go to the end of that street, to the spot where there is a blue smiley face spray-painted on the speed limit sign. Up close it looks like itís crying. And as I approach the end of this road that Iíve known as I grew up and learned and lost my innocence and became who I am today, I think.
ďWhat if I just kept going? What if I conquered those hills? What if I didnít turn around? I could do it. I could go have an adventure today.Ē But I always turn around when I get to the end. And I get tired of the same views. My friendís same bushes in front of her yard. The same groove in the ground where rainwater always gathers on the left side of the road. The same beer bottles left just a few feet into the forest. The same smiley face on the same speed limit sign that looks like its crying from up close.
Yes, I always turn around. And I get tired of the same sights. And the same turns. And the same adventures. Some day Iíll be brave enough to get to the end and keep going, to climb those hills, to go somewhere new and different and cool. Some day Iíll run away and have an adventure and no one will be able to tell me that I canít. I will.
Some day I wonít turn around when I reach the hills at the end of the right direction of the road at the end of my street, with a crying smiley face on the speed limit sign and a groove on the side of the road that fills with rainwater.