When I was a kid, droves of us would play outside near my house.
My five siblings and I would join with our dozen or so cousins and other kids in the neighborhood.
We would run. We’d play kickball and “I Spy” – our version of Hide-and-Seek.
We played in the small yards near our red brick apartments in College Homes or in the big grassy courtyard out front.
Or we’d gather in clumps on the sidewalks or underneath the huge oak tree near the busy street that I wasn’t allowed to cross without an older sister or brother.
During the school year as soon as we’d finished dinner and homework, we went outside. In the summer, we went out as soon as we could escape after a half-assed swipe at our assigned chores.
I squeezed every bit of fun out of each day. I knew that when the street lights came on, I had to go inside.
That soft amber glow from the funny-shaped lights atop the green metal poles was the signal that another day of play was over.
Truthfully, I never went inside right away. I always pushed for a few minutes more.
It usually took hearing my mother call my name before I would grudgingly surrender and call it a day.
She would be waiting on the concrete slab that was our front porch. She’d herd me in the door and up the metal stairs to take my bath.
I was the youngest and was always the first to be called inside.
The street lights in my old neighborhood are different now. The entire neighborhood has changed.
The oak tree is still there. It doesn’t seem so big now.
In an odd twist, here in my new neighborhood in Lafayette, the street lights are almost exactly like those from my childhood.
When I take a walk on these spring evenings, I try to time it just right so that as I walk out of my apartment door and head down the main street, the street lights are just beginning to glow.
Sometimes, I can almost hear my mom calling me to come inside.