Sometimes I ate the lawn to remind myself that I was alive. The lawn, that was always green but never ours. This lawn was perfectly manicured and surrounded by a steel gate painted forest green, that I thought looked much more the color of the poop of our neighbors baby.
This lawn eating was actually a little blip in the line of obsessive compulsive disorders I would have as a child, but wait... I'm getting ahead of myself. As stories begin, this is still about the lawn I've always wanted. I'll begin again.
Palm Street is hot in the summer. One can tell how hot by how much the asphalt bubbles and the street swells. In flip flops we jump on bubbles to let free the hot air beneath. They look like boils and feel like balls of Jell-O beneath our tiny feet; we love them but for the heat that radiates through our shoes and singes our skin. Keneshia and I do this for hours when there is nothing else to do. We are old enough that dolls and toys are of no interest, but too young to venture far from the safety of our condo city.
Our condo city is filled with lawns cut and cared for by people we never see and is greener than the Crayola color of the same name. African lilies grow in equal numbers in front of each condo. From the south to the north there are seven complexes with four condos each; two lower and two upper levels connected. Each are painted the exact same shade of dull gray with an evergreen trim. Every lower condo has exactly four African lily bushes, neon green lawn, and two sprinklers in front of them, supporting the overuse of water and the “beautification” of a city. Even in times of drought, these lawns never go brown and in times of plenty the lawns just go to mush.
Today we are pulling the bulbs from the lilies in order to find out more about their insides. They are like damp flour, sticking to our fingers, and we grind each petal into the lawn hoping for the spread of seed.
Palm Street is where I grow up with Keneshia, though she actually lives in other condos on another street. Before Palm street there was another street that I am barely able to remember, so this is the street I will mostly call my home except for when I am with Riri and Raleigh at Lage House.
Palm street smells like barbecues, tamales, and exhaust, though never all at the same time. It is a mostly Latino neighborhood and my mother and I are two of the five black people living on it. Our condo is low income housing that my mom had waited on a list for. The condo is two bedroom, two bathroom, which means I have a bathroom of my own. It is the standard setup, living room, dining, small kitchen with an inlet and outlet to the aforementioned rooms. There is a hall that leads to my room with my bathroom on the right and my mom's room on the left. Most of the time I love this condo because it is ours and I can call it home, but there are other times when I am pained by the fact that my mom will not get us a dog because the condo is "too small" and there's no yard for a dog to run around in. At night I have dreams of doggy doors that open up to backyards.
During my childhood there are a number of things I will ask my mother for that she will never get me.
A front yard
While my mom made it clear to me that she was unable to have anymore children due to having a hysterectomy, I became increasingly vocal about needing a sister.
"A little one! I want a little sister to take care of, why can't you have one?"
"I can't honey," she would say and repeat once again that they had taken the part she needed inside of her to have babies, out.
Eventually she would find me a sister, but not the one I wanted. She lived with us on Palm Street for six months and then she disappeared. She wanted a front yard too, but that was something my mom couldn't give to her either and so on she went from us. There will be more of her later, but Palm Street begins much earlier than that when my feet and my body are still small and I am still innocent.