The first house we lived in wasn’t made for our family. My parents bought it right after getting married and the small two-bedroom, one-bathroom house was more than enough. The neighborhood was great, there was a sweet old lady who lived across the street and who grew tomatoes in her front yard, always supplying my parents with more than their hearts’ content. In my parents’ yard, there were two beautiful orange and grapefruit trees, from which my dad hung a tire swing one year. Right before my brother was born, my dad built a large fence around the yard, to make sure that we didn’t wander into the street. As the years went by and I joined our small family, the fence became more of a symbol of keeping things out than keeping my brother and me in. The little old lady died and her house started falling apart, a cheap apartment building went in on the corner and the neighborhood just continued to fall deeper into disarray. We quickly realized that we lived in a neighborhood full of drug dealers and muggers. Three houses down, a serial killer was arrested and my parents became stricter about my brother and me not playing with the other kids in the neighborhood.
It was because of this that I stuck to my big brother like glue. Aaron and I were each other’s best friends growing up. One summer afternoon Aaron and I discovered that if we swung high enough on the tire swing in our backyard, we could see over the fence and into our neighbor’s yard. We liked to keep up on the progress the neighbor was making in his “herbal remedy” garden. Aaron taught me many important life lessons, such as where to kick a boy if you wanted to do the most damage and how to properly hold a laser gun. Granted, the first one didn’t exactly make guys chase after me, but that’s what big brothers do. They make sure their little sisters know how to navigate life.