They bulldozed Killer Hill. That’s what Nate said in a group text to Mom, Alana, and me. He visited Killer Hill because his job took him to Groton, which is where the Navy stationed my dad when we were kids. They tore down the homes, too, and solar panels sit where they used to be.
Killer Hill was infamous. It was the kid equivalent to a black diamond ski slope, and it was nestled into the large hill our neighborhood and several others sat on. Before it became a plain for solar panels, Killer Hill was situated behind a carport that was about halfway up the hill. A row of houses and a dangerous patch of rocks and brush rested at its base. When it snowed and we were out of school, we would grab our sleds and head from our home on the top of the hill to Killer Hill. Our first year in Groton, we had turquoise sleds with white handbrakes. I remember standing at the top of Killer Hill watching my new friends speed down, turning sharply at about two-thirds of the way to avoid plowing into the rocks and the house below. The horrifying and thrilling feeling that I got when I played with fire when Mom wasn’t looking came over me, and I got in line.
Kid rumor had it that someone ran into the house or the brush or the rocks, and died. I don’t know if that is true, but from personal experience, I could see how that could happen.
I am sad and surprised to learn that Killer Hill is gone. In typical fashion, humans tampered with the earth, and in the process, they erased memories from the geography, which cannot return to the way it once was. I was surprised, I think, because I assumed that only homes would be torn down. Our home there was leveled a number of years ago; Google Earth revealed a dirt patch where the house used to be. The house was old and had asbestos, so I expected that to happen eventually. But Killer Hill was a part of the earth, and I did not expect that to change.
I thought about Killer Hill and the memories my siblings and our friends created in that neighborhood, and I realized, suddenly, that this is what it must be like to get older. Year by year, I age, and as time passes, places and people begin to change. Killer Hill becomes flat, and the houses disappear, leaving no geographical evidence that a group of adventurous children once sledded there. The people in my life will eventually change, too. They will age, and in time, they will die, leaving few people who share memories with me. And although I may still be here to retell those stories, the images that appear in my mind’s eye are not shared by others. Then, in time, I, too, will not be here, and as the people who come after me age and die, the memory of me will fade, and the finite collection of thoughts, ideas, and experiences I had will disappear with me–just like our Groton home and Killer Hill faded into the earth.