They got into town late, the rental truck’s rear wheel no longer smoking, the detour of mechanical failure adding an extra three hours beyond the three-day journey from rocky elevations to coastal valleys.
I biked over in the early afternoon. The porch screen door was closed and locked, but the hallway was visible all the way into the backyard, all the way into the trunk of the large single redwood. The wife and grandmother and grandson were unpacking, and the grandmothers asked me if I remembered the tree fort in the backyard. It was the first time I’d biked to the first house on Eureka Canyon in more than two decades since the family had moved to the larger house on the valley closer to the ocean.
Did I remember?
There had been a chicken coop, which just saying that there had been something, once, was as if there had been a tree fort. We walked through that hallway into the backyard and stood underneath the shade and I inspected the rope ladders, both of them. It looked familiar, but not in a specific way. I remembered where the computer was, and the games we would play around the side of the house, and the comic books in the lower shelf of the market across the street, and the way it felt to touch the purple reset button on the video game console when I inevitably finished my last heart or life, wanting for just a bit more of that pixelated universe.. The style of knots looked familiar, and the style of rope, its orange and black, was too familiar. But the platform above our heads? No, those steps were of a different nostalgia.