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On the sidewalk

My parents still live in the house I grew up in. I’ve found this is not the norm. Most people grieve the loss of their childhood homes in early adulthood (if they’re sentimental like me).

Even in my teen years, I never thought of living in my childhood home as a rarity. It was just life. Another fact of life: My paternal grandparents lived three houses down. In the same house my dad grew up in.

I’ve got nostalgic pavements
I’ve got familiar faces
I’ve got a mixed-up memory
And I’ve got favorite places

Kate Nash, ‘Mouthwash’

In many ways, it was a charmed existence. I could lazily stroll down the street to visit with my grandparents and maybe even sneak in an episode of Lizzie McGuire if I timed it right. My world stretched from the cherry laurel tree in our front yard all the way to the old motorboat in my grandparents’ backyard. We rode circles in the driveway and back to our house on bikes that were too big. We built forts out of twigs and scoured photo albums, making up stories about all the black and white photos.

And every time I got ready to leave, my grandpa would say the same refrain. “Stay on the sidewalk,” he’d call from his chair, a throne that doubled as a recliner. It was a sweet reminder to be safe despite the short distance between our homes. When I think about my Papa, that memory sticks the most and has stayed with me well into adulthood.

One lesson I learned from my grandpa is to stay on the sidewalk.

It’s a lesson worth remembering. Not just to be careful and stay safe, but also to stick to the path that’s in front of you. Perseverance is a useful quality to have in your tool belt, especially when life gets tough. As an adult, I see “stay on the sidewalk” as an encouragement to be steady and true. To not just give up when it gets hard, but push forward despite the difficult things.

I’m not denying that some situations require a change in direction. It’s okay to take a u-turn or even forge an entirely new path for yourself. I think that with endurance and resolve at your disposal, you can make the decision to turn left or keep going with much more confidence.