[meme from Owlhaven.]
Moving around so much, the houses all blur together. Even though I drew little floor layouts in my journals every time we moved, still do in fact. My memories of events are generally rather neatly organized by place/date, but the locations tend to be fuzzy. I forget exactly what was in each place, until I’m set straight by photographs. So mostly, if I had to pick just one place, it would be my grandparents’ old house, in a small town only an hour from where I live now. (They moved out and sold it two summers ago. Crushing – my brother agrees.) When I think of their house, I can’t define time as easily — we returned there so often, most summers. The way I think of it — is how I imagine growing up in one house, one place your whole life, would be.
Big doublewide trailer they were always making improvements on. I remember when it all had that crazy red-orange shag carpet – now only in the bottom of a few closets. I remember when they built the big back porch, then when they turned it into a big long room, the length of the house, full of windows and light. I remember when my brothers and other male cousins helped them sheetrock the walls (a big plus), when they walled off most of the former dining area and put in a big pantry, when they got all new furniture for the front room. I remember the orange flowered wallpaper in the bathroom – I remember being sick in there once, staring at it forever, and finding faces in every blossom.
I remember the garage, cavernous to my child eyes, where the towing chain fell off the wall and clocked my brother’s head that time. I remember dancing in the rain with my siblings, while the adults watched amused from the porch or garage, thunder and lightning overhead during the summer monsoons. Imagining games for hours with the assorted little plastic animals.
Playing hide and seek by moonlight with my cousins. R. and D. carrying C. in one evening with a huge thorn in his foot. (Amazed at the size of it. Touched by the idea of older brothers to take care of you.) Walks down to the wash with cousins and uncles, shooting cans with the rifles and Grandma’s pistol. Wandering in the heat, sand, goat-head stickers (always wear socks, and my baseball cap); the old brick malt shop (long closed) on the corner. Walking to church, and to school for those few months in 6th grade. Begging to go over the dip in the back of the pickup truck.
Homemade juice popsicles. Health food all the time. Wrestling with Grandpa and my brother on the living room floor. I remember Grandma dragging me out of bed early one morning (to see the sunrise? I think) – I remember sitting, falling asleep, by the sliding glass door, all bleary eyed. Coming home from girls’ camp. Designing and making a quilt with Grandma.
Curling up in the overstuffed rocking recliners in the front room. Playing the piano – pounding my way through learning Love Story, Fur Elise, the music box song (from Michael McLean’s The Forgotten Carols, which I lay and read/listened to there. One July). Reading books, Reader’s Digest Condensed novels (plenty of those), poems, Two From Galilee, feeling that desire and defining it for the first time – to write books that will move others the way I’ve been moved.
Climbing the black walnut tree out front, and swinging on the rope swing. The front porch glider. The flimsy swingset out back. The intriguing camper that we seldom ventured into.
Backyard. The pecan trees, with their wonderful shade; Grandpa was constantly shelling. The mimosa tree – lovely smell. Iris. The clothesline, the basketball hoop, the shop where Grandpa cut his thumb that time, the woodpile – beware of black widows! The cactus patch in the corner where their dog Freckles is buried (we were there when she died). Rosebushes along the fence. The gates with their lifting latches.
The cellar under the garage – it had a large door that lifted up with a weight attached to a pulley system. Endlessly fascinating.
Watching tons of videos, scripture story tapes, those cheesy feature films for families ones, old classics in black and white. The first season of Dark Angel, later. Playing Farkle on the table – the dice bounced so well there. Farkle – the family game. And Survive, with Ryan and Aften. Outside cats, and nearly always at least one dog that was in and out. Praying kneeling around the table by the back windows at breakfast.