When I was 12, I lived in a townhouse on Anania Circle in the town of Mililani, situated in the center of the island of Oahu. Our neighbor was a grumpy old man who would bang his fists against the wall whenever I practiced the piano. Soon we figured out that I could not, should not play during the evening news.
Our home was surrounded by a sloping wall because we were at the bottom of a hill. In fact, the entire townhouse complex was surrounded by this same type of volcanic rock wall. We used to walk on top of it (because we were crazy), but our wall could not be walked on continuously as there was too much shrubbery and rhododendrons around us, too.
Even though we had a small front lawn, we never used it. Unless you count the time my mom dug a hole and threw all of her boyfriend’s crap into it along with the shovel she used. Mainly the lawn served as a nice green space that filled the gate and papaya trees that bordered us. I’m sure there were other useful plants there as well. My mom is an excellent gardener.
The backyard was just a concrete floor. Useless. Sometimes though, I would take the back gate to get to our house or the park, but generally I went around.
This townhouse was the home we moved into after my dad died, so my memories here are mostly negative, strong, sad and unreal. It’s the house I almost burned down. It’s the place where the cops came after my mom discovered her boyfriend tried to hang himself in our detached garage. It’s where I had to break in because my mom neglected to leave us the key.
It’s the home that houses my childhood sadness.
But this house was in a neighborhood built for kids. It had three parks that we named: Tire Swing Park, Rainbow Park and Pool Park. It was perfect for exploring, running, hiding, taunting less-liked and weaker kids, getting into fights, breaking limbs and falling out of trees. It’s where I sang to myself making mud pies and kissed a boy.
It’s where my younger brother led a crusade to bring back our white rabbit who had escaped under our fence. We had two albino friends, Harry and Cottonball, and I’m not sure which one we had to run after. But I remember watching my brother and his friends running, searching, surrounding, chasing and finally capturing our dear pet. Our neighborhood was so big, I felt like it was a miracle that they found him and brought him back.
When I was 12 years old, I lived in a townhouse, and I have never lived in one since.