Behind the Scenes: Confessions of a Former Park Street Girl

Today’s photo comes courtesy of a girl who doesn’t necessarily love going back to her hometown.

The why of that is far too long and complicated to get into…it’s just difficult.

I go so Mae can see her grandparents…

…so I can see my family and a handful of friends who live there.

But it’s hard to be in a place that hurts…so much heartbreak and un-belonging. (I’m in the business of making up words these days. ;))

One of the ways I survive (and I say that carefully…it’s obviously not real survival ;)) is by running. I run here, but running there is different because that physical run often turns into a head-on sprint into my past.

Last Tuesday morning, I went for a run through the neighborhood I grew up in.

So much of it hadn’t changed and yet it felt foreign.

I had run from my mom’s house, past my elementary school, through my old neighborhood, down by the park and public pool, around the lake, and on my way back, I decided I needed to run back by the place I’d lived for the first fourteen years of my life.


I really wanted to take a full-on picture but didn’t want to look like a creeper. Instead, I settled for wrestling my iPhone out of my sweaty armband and snapping a photo of the street…but my house is the white one that you can kind of see through the trees. πŸ˜‰Β 

Running by it was bittersweet…out of my years spent in C-town, those spent in that house…on that street…are the ones that I’m (mostly) ok with revisiting. There were special moments in that neighborhood…bike rides with friends on sidewalks that are still there, getting knocked out with a baseball in the side yard one spring, sledding down our hill every winter, 4th of July fireworks-watching from our backyard.

I do smile when I think of those things, even the baseball knocking out part. πŸ˜‰

But what I’m kind of glad you can’t see in this picture is the stop sign at the end of the (very long) block.

It’s the corner of Park and Kirby, and it’s an intersection I wish never existed. Ever.

Because when I was ten, that’s where my closest friend in the neighborhood died.

Car accident.

I’m brave enough to drive through it now, but I couldn’t for years.Β Years.

I ran through it, and while I tried to put out of my mind what had happened there 24 1/2 years ago, the tears still sprang to my eyes.

Some memories are embedded too deeply to ever be erased, I guess.

I’ve tried giving thanks over and over for my hometown, for the pain it holds, for the memories that are there, for the pieces of my heart that will always be tied to this town of 9,000.

I find it hard to say thank you for pain, but He does work through it. He gives and He reminds that He is always good, even when families shatter to bits and girls are mean and friends leave this world way too soon.

Just a few confessions from the small-town piece of my heart I left behind 21 years ago.

Thanks for taking a walk down Park Street and memory lane with me today. :)


Happy Tuesday to you all! Today I’m linking up at my friend, Crystal’s place for some sweet and silly and sometimes-tear-jerking storytelling…the kind where we show you pictures and tell you what’s really going on behind the camera lens.

Social media and online relationships can make us feel like everyone else has it all together. We’re edited, proof-read, Pinterest-perfect versions of ourselves (or so some might think!) when – in reality? There is an unfinished pile of laundry around the corner. That cute toddler smiling for the camera just had a massive meltdown seconds ago. That yummy breakfast-for-dinner you just showed us on Instagram? It’s because the cat licked the chicken that was supposed to be for dinner.

“Behind the Scenes” is a fun link up where we show those photos – but tell the real story behind them. The sneak peek behind the scenes, a look past the edges of the photo to the real life behind it.

Thanks for taking the time to read my words…I hope you’ll hop over and read more about what’s happening in the lives of some of my favorite bloggy-sisters!



  1. Mel, I love you! Oh how I love you and wish I could hug you and sit and chat over a cup of coffee (or a margarita ;)) instead of via texts and tweets and emails. :) Your words are so touching and moving, and yes, I love how you create new ones — un-belonging… perfection!! (and I, too, try not to be a creeper whilst taking pictures…) Praying that God will continue to work through the painful memories and bring you ever closer to Him and to the healing His hands hold!!! Love you, friend!!!

    • You are a blessing, friend. :) I know, isn’t it so awkward to pull out your phone to take a picture, wondering what people might think? There was an older woman walking behind me, and she kind of looked…and I was just all, “Beautiful morning, isn’t it?” And then I took off. Fast. Haha! πŸ˜€ Love you, friend…can’t wait for that coffee! Or…ahem…margarita. πŸ˜‰

  2. This is such a beautiful story, Mel. I’m so sorry about your friend and all the pain from your past. I’m thankful we serve a God who dries the tears from our eyes. You showed courage by running down that street! God Bless you! Have a wonderful day.

    • Oh, blessings to you, sweet friend…thank you for your kind words. Your post today was incredible…I’m still thinking about it. Hope your week is wonderful! :)

  3. Hi Mel
    I hope all is well. Would love to hear from you. :)

    I connect so much with this post. I don’t like the feeling that wells up inside so I just don’t go back often. Just mainly straight to my parents house and back. I don’t let it haunt me because I know that wouldn’t be of God, and I am healed of all those childhood “things”. But, I think… why relive it? I already do to a certain extent for writing my book – that will be for Grace. That’s good enough for me. :)
    You writer “beaufitully” – did I remember that right? πŸ˜‰


    • I really try not to let it get to me, but sometimes it’s just really hard to go back. I definitely look for the blessings. :) And, yep, you totally remembered that right! P.S. My facebook page is…ahem…published. Thought you might like to know that. πŸ˜‰ Blessings, sweet friend.

  4. Mel – So hard to go revisit the past & the pain connected with it at times. Praying that our God would redeem the hurt & somehow, even through this post, use what happened in a mighty way. So grateful that our God is One who is fully capable of understanding the depths of all that we have been through & how it has affected us. He was there then & He is with you now.

    • Thank you, Joanne, for the encouragement. I need to remember that He gets it all when I don’t…and that’s ok. :) Blessings back to you…have a great week!

  5. Oh friend, that is so heartbreaking. I couldn’t imagine the heartache you must’ve felt as a child and even now in revisiting such a tragedy! Praying The Lord comforts you and brings even more healing each and every time this memory brings back pain! You are definitely brave to go back there, knowing the hurt that resides there! Sending hugs to you!!

    • Thank you for the hugs, my sweet friend…it’s amazing how memories can really hang on, even those we’d like to forget. I guess there’s a reason I need to remember. πŸ˜‰ Blessings and happy week to you!

  6. Mel, what a brave and beautiful post. Thank you for your encouragement to all of us to re-think our history with our homes and hometowns…cause we’ve probably all got some! It’s different for all of us but it is there! Have a blessed day.

    • Thank you, Holly! It’s encouraging to know that I’m not alone with at least some of my feelings about going “home”. πŸ˜‰ Blessings to you…have a great week!

  7. I am so sorry Friend. How brave to run through – both the intersection and the memories. And that simple action is an example to your daughter. And you will be blessed because of it.

    Thank you for blessing us with it!

  8. Running is that for me too. An out, a way to process a way to leave things behind and come back a little lighter than when I left. The verse that He whispered to me yesterday…that He has so many times and it fits where I am at yet again….
    Isaiah 43: 18-19 The Voice
    18 Eternal One: Don’t revel only in the past,
    or spend all your time recounting the victories of days gone by.
    19 Watch closely: I am preparing something new; it’s happening now, even as I speak,
    and you’re about to see it. I am preparing a way through the desert;
    Waters will flow where there had been none.

    Happy to see you today sweet friend. Your words always bring a beautiful perspective to my heart :)

    • I love those verses…and they were good for my heart today. Thank you, friend…I always smile when I see you here, too. Wishing you a wonderful week…blessings and hugs! :)

  9. Wish I could hug your ten-year-old self! Places hold such deep memories and emotions when big events happen there. Some are wonderful, but some are terrible and hard to even think about. It’s heartening to hear about giving thanks for the pain and the work being done through it. Beuatiful!

    • Thank you, Amy! I always tell myself that even if I have sad memories, there are happy ones, too…and I need to look for the good. It helps. :) You are a blessing…hope you have a fantastic week! :)

  10. Visiting from Behind The Scenes. Your words are both beautiful and brave. Thank you for allowing us to take this walk down memory lane with you. I’m sorry for the pain of losing a friend at such a young age. May God continue to bring you peace and healing. God bless you.

  11. Some losses we just carry with us forever, friend. I wish I was nearby to give you a hug. The roads and houses of my childhood home are gone, because the city bought them to make another shopping center, but I got to see some of the other landmarks a couple of weeks ago and it was so bittersweet to think of the girl-me who used to live there. Thanks for sharing your memories with us!

    • You are sweet…and I’ll take a virtual hug until we can have a real-life one! :) Blessings and happy week to you, friend!

  12. Oh friend. What a painfully beautiful story. I am always so amazed by how those moments in our past seem to still impact our lives today. Praying for you friend as you remember.

  13. Dear Mel
    Whar a genuine heartfelt post! Mel I think that every time one of our loved ones die, we all die a little bit deep in our own heart. We have the comfort that we will again one day reunited with the all.
    Blessings XX

    • I’m so thankful I’ll see her again…that IS a comfort. :) Love your perspective and encouragement, Mia…thank you! Blessings, sweet friend!

  14. What a beautiful love your words show. The fact that your heart still hurts for your friend after all these years is proof of the depth of your love. She impacted you then and now the connection you shared is impacting us today. What a beautiful testimony. Love you and pray comfort for you in these times of hurt.

    • It surprises me sometimes that I still think of her so often…but I think it’s important to allow people to continue to impact us, even if they’re no longer here. Thank you for your sweet words, Amy…I’m so thankful for you and the blessing you are to me! Wishing you a wonderful week, friend! :)

  15. Wow. that is tough. I know what you mean about un-belonging. I don’t think that some pains evergo completely aware (and maybe they shouldn’t). I still cry every Christmas when I unwrap the Christmas angel my PaPa made me and I know he is not hear and how he died 1 week before I was going to tell him that I was pregnant with Spencer. But I think you are right to not run away from the pain. Running away or hiding from it seems to prolong it – at least for me. Blessings to you friend!

    • I agree with you…sometimes the pain that comes with reminders should be there. I don’t necessarily want to forget my friend; it’s just that it hurts sometimes to remember. No easy answers, I guess…but I’m sorry Christmas hurts, friend. Praying God will comfort you and remind you of the happy memories. Blessings to you, Holly…and lots of hugs! :)

  16. Thank you for sharing this hard story Mel. I can’t imagine how hard it is to still think about your friend. A similar event happened in my cousin’s life when she was 8 and she still keeps pictures of her friend in her nightstand 10 years later. Beautiful post!!

  17. This is such a beautiful post – I know that in His time, God makes all this right. Sending hugs your way!!

  18. I am learning to vintage the past – to find the grace in them, instead the hurt:) Thank you for taking me on your run with you, for sharing your heart – and your courage!

  19. It’s not so easy shutting the door on the past. I try to remember my past has shaped the woman I am today and I quite like the woman I am today. I’d have me as a friend if I weren’t me. In Buddhism, despite all the stuff about reincarnation and karma and whatnot, the present is what is given importance. It’s the only ‘reality’ that exists right now that you can transform.

    • It’s definitely important to remember the past in one sense, especially as we learn and grow, and hopefully don’t make the same mistakes twice. :)

      Yet as the apostle Paul reminds us in Philippians, it’s also important not to dwell on the past and mistakes we’ve made, like you said. “I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.”

    • Tam, I remind myself of that a lot…the fact that each piece of the journey has shaped me. I’m thankful for all of those twists and turns God has allowed in order to bring me to the place I am. :) Blessings and hope you’re having a great week, friend!

  20. Being the mother of a ten year old girl, I can’t imagine trying to get her to NOT be impacted by a friend’s death at this age. Definitely a life-changing moment for you, and even with your tears and sweaty palms, it is probably a good thing for you to (literally) run through/past that fear every so often.
    On a totally different note, the baseball knockout explains alot. HAHA! You know I am just kidding! ILY!

    • Ok, so gotta admit…I’m surprised it took that many comments for someone to say that. HA. πŸ˜‰ Thanks for your friendship…you are such a blessing. Maybe we can squeeze in some coffee and a chat sometime soon? (((hugs)))

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