September 09, 2002
A Driving Tour of Natick

Last night, Ryan wouldn't go to sleep. He'd had a weird day, and hadn't really napped much or at the right times. These things happen. I mean, its impossible, really, to keep to life and a schedule at the same time. So last night, after my parents got home with the kids, and met us, Ryan refused to go to sleep.

We tried the bottles. We tried rocking. We tried letting him scream it out.

Nothing worked.

So finally I grabbed my mom's keys, moved the car seat from her car to mine, grabbed my husband, and we went for a drive.

I offered to drive, since well, it *was* my home town and I could navigate it best and didn't have to say "turn here" or anything then. I figured I'd go down to Route 9, head down to Main Street, use that to turn around, and come home.

Of course, this didn't go as planned.

We had just about made it to Main Street and there was this squeaking noise from the broken styrofoam cooler driving me NUTS. So I figured I'd find a place to pull over and get the lid off so it'd stop squeaking. Then I heard this noise from the back seat.

This giggle. Then a chortle. Then a chorus of "ba ba ba ba".

Yes, my son was still awake. Five minutes into the drive, he was still very much conscious, and while he was now calm and no longer screaming his lungs out... it was also obvious he was enjoying himself.

So, time for a change of plans. I pulled off Route 9 onto Route 27 (the would be Main Street) and headed south. I pulled into the White Hen Pantry at the corner of Bacon street and we fixed the problem with the cooler. Ahhh... much less styrofoam squeaky noises. And Ryan, well, he was still awake, and looking at us when we looked back at him, but a little quieter. But still very much awake.

So I smiled at Kevin and said I was taking him on a driving tour of Natick. We've been together for 11 years, married for six, and I've never actually taken him on a tour of my home town. Normally, one would do this in the *light* but well, we were out, and we were a couple of blocks from one of my houses and my old elementary school. It just seemed like the right time to do it.

We drove up and turned onto Franconia Ave. I pointed to the right, showing him the old elementary school (it was two buildings) set down the hill slightly. It isn't a school any longer, but the deed or something said that it had to remain in use by the town and the kids, so it is now a town hall, and a recreation center for the parks & recreation department. Which is a good use for it. It also happens to be, as I mentioned on the tour, the setting for one story I wrote a long time ago ("Choices" -- a vampire story).

A little further down the street and I pointed to the left, then frowned, realizing that in the dark, I actually wasn't sure which of two houses was the one I lived in for a couple of years. But it was one of those. Then we turned left and I pointed out the house my best friend (at the time we moved to Franconia) lived in. As we turned right, I pointed out the Victorian on the corner, mentioning that my mom had always wanted that house.

"The one with the For Sale sign?" my husband asked.

"What?" I tried to look in the dark, but failed miserably. Kevin craned around as well, saying that he *thought* it was a For Sale sign but maybe it was an election sign. Well, I had to know, so I did a U-turn and we went back again. Yup, For Sale. I resolved to look it up on the web later to find out how much it was going for ($689,000 if you're curious -- don't think I'm buying THAT house any time soon!).

We continued our tour then, back to Franconia and then back to Main Street, showing Kevin the entrance to the Natick Labs, where my mom used to work before she retired. When we lived on Franconia it was an easy walk down to work. I said something about walking by The Circle, and Kevin looked at me funny. I said, "Well, its Heritage Lane, but its shaped like a circle so we all just called it that. Its where the family housing was for the people only there a few years."

"On base housing," my husband translated. I explained that yeah, but it was the only HOUSE housing. There were also apartments for those in the service, but the houses were for families. I knew a lot of people who lived there, over the years, and lost a lot of friends when their fathers moved on. In a way, it was sort of sad.

We drove by the old apartment building we lived in when we first came to Natick, and then I drove down the dead end street so he could see it again -- this big yellow building right across the end of the street. I told him how when the blizzard of '78 came, they plowed the snow right down to the end of the street and dumped it in our front yard. Made a huge hill we went sledding on (I still have pics of it I think).

When we headed back to Main Street again, Kevin noticed the Pizza Plus on the corner. I laughed, and he was amused because there is a Pizza Plus on our corner here. I said yeah, I grew up with a non-chain pizza place named that so it was kind of interesting to find one here, too.

Then I took him down into South Natick. I love South Natick. Its like its own little world. I drove past the falls, although he couldn't see them, and pointed to the church where I used to take baton lessons. We turned around on the street where Glen lived, and I told him how Glen's mom was the only adult when I was in high school who actually really realized I was a bad influence on people and not the little angel I acted like. Okay, so not like I was BAD like some people are bad, but I certainly wasn't an angel either. *grins*

I tried to take him up Cottage St to see the corner where my friend drove off the ledge of someone's driveway but I couldn't find the street in the dark. Ah well... I still managed to not get us lost and we wound our way back to Main Street again (do you sense a theme? *laughs*).

We went down Pond St instead of 135 like we usually do, and I showed him "that place Ted gets lottery tickets" because he remembered that my dad went downtown for that and then I pointed to my high school way back on the left. I would've taken him to drive by that, but Ryan was asleep and we wanted to get back by then.

And then we were back to 135 and Speen, where Roche Brothers is, and into familiar space for him. We drove home, extracted Ryan gently from the car, and put the baby to bed, a half hour after we left.

It wasn't an expected tour, but it was kind of fun, talking about all the little things in my life growing up after we moved to Natick. I'd like to do it again in the light, actually, and maybe show him the high school, and the right house on Franconia... again, little things. Either way, it was nice to do it. And in a way, I'm sort of glad Ryan gave us the chance.

Posted by Deb Atwood at September 09, 2002 10:44 PM | TrackBack
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