Hot July

Do you remember the small stone ledge on the inside of the underpass at the Daylesford train station? In high school, people started leaving little trinkets on the carved-out rock– it sort of turned into this “thing”, this unspoken game for the Conestoga crowd. At the red light on Lancaster Avenue, you could roll down your window, reach your arm out and take whatever was being offered: a tootsie roll, an individually wrapped mint, a Wawa coupon, a lost & found Stoga ID card. You were then semi-obligated to leave something of your own. A mix CD, a folded up math quiz, a partnerless glove.

The majority of my high school summers were spent working the counter at Rita’s Water Ice in Paoli, at the freestanding location on Route 30 that is now Whirled Peace Frozen Yogurt. I sped the Steel Magnolia (the family “kid car,” a 1991 Honda Accord) down Conestoga Road, rolled through the stop sign on Old Lancaster and then always, always hit the red light at the train station. After that, you were allowed to go 45mph on Route 30 and it was a straight shot to Rita’s from there. That light took forever to change. The only nice thing about it was the ledge, which became one of the many things I loved and continue to love about “home.”

Two and a half weeks ago, Nick Guyer, one of my brothers’ closest friends, passed away suddenly. The memorial service was at St. Norbert’s, on Route 252, close to Rita’s. My family drove past the high school in my father’s car, came to a complete stop at the stop sign, paused at the red light. I looked to my right, out of habit. There was a brand-new pack of tissues on the stone ledge, just sitting there, waiting for someone in need to reach out their window and take it with them. Above it? A Conestoga sticker, maroon and gray, pressed firmly into the stone foundation of the overpass.

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