Chris Walsh (chris_walsh) wrote,
Chris Walsh

Pieces of my past, 1982-1983: Lord Dunmore Dr., Virginia Beach, VA

Details. Three-decades-old details. I'm remembering them. Some of them.

From summer 1982 to fall 1984, from before third grade to a month into fifth, I lived in Virginia Beach, VA. First a rented house on Lord Dunmore Dr., a cut-through route off of Kempsville Rd. where I had to be careful of too-fast traffic, then a house Mom and Dad bought on Little Lake Rd. in the Great Neck area, in the summer of 1983. (Our next move, to Vienna in Northern Virginia, was just over a year later. Sometimes, people in the military move after spending only a few months in one place.)

Here's some of what I remember about Lord Dunmore.

Summer 1982-Summer 1983

IT HAD A PLAY ROOM. Stairs from the kitchen led to a finished attic space; it was the first house I'd lived in with sort of a second story. My brother and I had a little TV hooked up to an Atari there; I remember getting annoyed with how slow Atari's Video Chess was (I didn't play it much). But at least we were no longer clobbering the family room TV. The play room had one window: I remember watching a lightning storm through it. Later, storm-watching became a habit, at least where lightning was likely. (Not much lightning in the parts of Oregon where I've lived.)

My bedroom was on the house's southwest corner facing the street, with windows west and south. I'd be in bed seeing the light patterns from the headlights of passing cars, having trouble figuring out which direction cars were going to cause the light's movement. I could've gotten up and paid closer attention — cars would've gone past eventually — but I never thought to do so. I was still learning. (I'm still learning.)

In there I had a map play set. It was a map with removable pieces shaped like each state in the Union, with a written guide telling you which state joined when. I don't remember taking out pieces to represent the Southern states breaking off. I must temperamentally be a Northerner.

(I've said this before: I feel I lived next to the American South, not really in it. My Virginia Beach was more military-influenced than Southern-influenced; and Northern Virginia is so influenced by the national government being right there. I would not be surprised if, someday, the D.C. Metro area becomes its own state. It feels like one.

(Also, if I remember correctly, I've yet to eat in a Waffle House.)

Its backyard wasn't fenced; it was a tree-filled area shared by several houses on three different streets. I did not infringe on other houses' privacy. (Years earlier, when I was less than 3, my family briefly stayed next to a Rancho Bernardo, CA golf course. I had so much trouble understanding it wasn't a big park I could run around in. Luckily we only stayed there for a few weeks and I never got beaned like Bob...



School, Fairfield Elementary, was just over a mile away; I think third grade was my first year riding a bus to school. My first two schools were .7 or .3 miles away from our homes, so I'd previously walked. I walked less during this time in my life. I did third-grade things, and also did speech therapy; at the time I had pronunciation troubles, such as with R-sounds. If (again) I remember correctly, I'd started in second grade in California. I would do speech therapy until seventh grade. I think it's helped.

I was also susceptible to suggestion, especially when something cool was suggested. Once, during play time outside on the school field, I ran. I ran fast. I ran faster. I convinced myself that I'd pumped my feet without, in fact, touching the ground. If I really had, well, there might have been science papers about me (or a comic book); as it was, when I got home I excitedly told Mom I'd flown. I really believed I had.

Around then I was, briefly, a Cub Scout Webelo, but a pretty indifferent one. Hence the word "brief." Sorry, Mom. (Mom wrangled the Webelo den I was in. We'd meet at our house. I'd wander off.)

I grew a little more independent in my TV viewing while there; one night I scared myself silly watching the alleged documentary The Devil's Triangle, not realizing how silly it was. Might have been my first exposure to Vincent Price, though, so it gets some points for him. Still, I mainly watched cartoons.

We spent Christmas 1982 with family in Portland; once we flew back and got home, I was exhausted. I felt compelled to take a bath. I was so tired, and so light, I fell asleep in the bath. AND FLOATED. Luckily. Unluckily, I scared the bejeezus out of Mom. Sorry, Mom.

But at no point in my childhood did my folks turn me out to fend for myself. Still, this was a period where I wonder if they wondered.

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