Recently, staring down my driveway as I took out the trash, my mind started to drift. A lot had changed since first time I did it, thousands of trips ago.
On that first day, some 32 years ago, I couldn’t believe my great fortune. I was married, with two children and living in a house where I had one less bathroom than I had rooms in the very first house I lived. That house did not have hot water, nor an air conditioner.
My wife and I had mustered all of our nickels and dimes to move into this house. There were no savings left. Everything would somehow work out, we hoped.
As I took a few steps, I remembered that just a few days after we moved in, my neighbor pulled a large plastic pipe over his wood fence and onto our driveway to drain water from his above-ground pool.
My wife and I went over and talked to them nicely and asked if he could run the pipe down his driveway. A few weeks later, he put his house up for sale.
Our new neighbors had two daughters. We became instant friends. They didn’t have a pool — just fun conversations, a few nice card games and generous libations.
There is a spot along the driveway where our family posed for a photo as we were packed and headed to Eustis, Florida, where I was starting a job with the Orlando Sentinel newspaper.
My wife was overjoyed when I got a job back here and we walked up that driveway again a little over a year later.
Our daughter had two cars to spend time in that driveway before she finished high school. Our son actually accepted and drove out of that driveway our very used red minivan, much to the hoots and howls of some of his high school classmates.
I remember a Saturday morning when I walked down the driveway to the median in front of our house to share concerns with a couple of neighbors about the election that pitted former Klan leader David Duke against Edwin Edwards. Edwards won.
I recall walking up that driveway around mid-morning, responding to a neighbor’s call that lots of teenagers were in my backyard. My daughter had rounded up her classmates to have a high school “senior skip day” barbecue in the backyard without permission. When I got to the top of the driveway, the party was over.
One time, there was horse in the driveway at a birthday party for my grandson. He sat on the horse with the owner holding the reins. My grandson was so happy. I was nervous. All ended well.
On a Saturday in August 2016, my wife stood at the bottom of the driveway with a suitcase in her hand as water edged into our front yard for the first time. We abandoned our house that evening.
Two days later, I walked up the driveway knowing that virtually every house on our block had flooded. Minutes later, I discovered ours had not. I sat on the sofa in the den giving thanks before I could relay her the good news.
When I look down the driveway, I can see a special circle of friends I have. We have visited each other’s homes to watch football and basketball games or just to shoot the breeze. At one time, there were eight of us. The last time they came up the driveway, our group totaled five.
Last year, I was playing with my oldest granddaughter. She got loose and started running down the driveway toward the street. Good Lord! I chased and caught her. She laughed. I did not.
As I was headed up the driveway that recent evening after leaving the trash can at the street, I stopped and looked at my black truck at the top. That truck marked the first time I had spent a sizable amount of money on something I wanted and did not need.
There is an old break in the pavement of my driveway that I should have repaired. But I kind of like it because when cars bump the crack, I am alerted that a vehicle has pulled up.
When I walk up the driveway now, it looks longer than before. It’s a destination trip to get the morning paper. The children in my house and my neighbor’s house are gone. A shade tree on the side of their house is gone, and all of the shrubbery is gone from my side of the driveway.
Funny how a long strip of concrete can make you think about the changes in your life. My life traversing that driveway is a perfect illustration of the quote: “The great thing about getting older is that you don’t lose all the other ages you’ve been.”
Email Edward Pratt, a former newspaperman who writes a weekly Advocate column, at email@example.com.