"It's weird, but I love it," Joanne Saylor says of her Leesburg neighborhood. (By Jahi Chikwendiu -- The Washington Post)
Thursday, August 17, 2006

Helen Vasaly is about to leave her cul-de-sac for college.
Helen Vasaly is about to leave her cul-de-sac for college.(Courtesy Helen Vasaly)
Where we live shapes us, and we shape where we live. Here's what area residents have to say about where they live. An occasional Page Three feature.

Room for New Memories

In two days, I leave. I leave the place where I have grown up, the place where I have learned to be me. As college move-in day approaches, my neighborhood braces for the inevitable. Seven of us will leave, some to colleges in state and others to colleges far away.

The cul-de-sac that taught us how to ride bikes now holds the cars we can drive. The swing sets that once were the center of our lives are still. All of the dinner parties and block parties are sure to continue through our parents, but for once, we will not be there.

As we have grown up, we have grown apart, each with different friends and activities at school, but we will always have a common childhood. At our "super seven graduation party," we reminisced on our adventures and secret hideouts. We laughed as we remembered our good times. As we start to pack up and leave, our childhood will follow us and guide us to who we will become.

Now, my neighborhood waits for a new generation to arrive and discover the tree fort and the green thing. It has many secrets, all waiting to be found.

-- Helen Vasaly, Arlington

Camaraderie Is in the Little Things -- and Ice Cream

My neighborhood is so cool. I live in the town of Leesburg. Living in the town is very different from living outside Leesburg. We have a very urban flavor going on here. I live in one of the lower-income complexes.

We don't have very much in the way of things to do, unless you venture outside the complex. Our pool was destroyed years ago, never to be replaced. We have no community room or place to meet. I do, however, have great neighbors. Our complex is made up of every nationality known to man.

All of the children play together, but, more importantly, they listen to me. I am a retired senior citizen. I don't do much, but like most of the adults here, we look out for the children and each other. We do have the ROCK (Recreation Outreach to Community Kids) program, offered in the summer and after school. It's free and provided by the town of Leesburg and the police department.

The highlight of the day is the ice cream truck. We sit outside and laugh and talk. We sometimes fire up our grills together.

This past spring, our mail carrier of 30 years retired, and we gave him a retirement party. It rained, but we had fun nonetheless.

-- Joanne Saylor, Leesburg

© 2006 The Washington Post Company