Friday, July 20, 2007

The House Where I Grew Up

The house I was raised in was not large in size. A red-brick, three-bedroom ranch with three young girls and eventually a baby brother, size was not one of its strengths. The rooms were square and plain. No crown molding here. No elaborate features. The backyard though, was the biggest in the neighborhood. We lived at the end of a circle and our yard touched seven others.

I remember falling asleep on the floor (I was 4) while my dad and mom painted before we moved in. We had just moved from Indiana to Tennessee because my dad had accepted a new pastorate. We had stayed with some church members for awhile before they purchased a house. I think I was the most excited about the house because it would mean getting our dog and cat back, who had been staying with church members too, but not the same ones - and that was the problem. We were just two parents and two girls in those days. I thought maybe our dog wouldn't want to come back to live with us because it was a new house and the dog had been living out on a farm. What if she liked the farm better? Well, even if she did, she still seemed very happy to see us.

I remember sitting in the tiny hallway with the whole family (why, I don't know!) and having a spirited discussion about what kind of men we should marry. I remember sitting on my bed for family prayers at night. I remember my parents coming to pray with me when I had nightmares. (Take a hint: don't show impressionable young children The Wizard of Oz!)

I remember trying to get up first so I could beat my younger sister to the warmest spot in the house - right in front of our gas heater.

I remember pulling our little wooden bench over the air register in the hottest part of the Tennessee summer. Lulu and I would sit there together. Once we cooled down we would bundle up in blankets from our bed and pretend we were riding in a wagon, like Laura and Mary Ingalls in The Little House in the Big Woods. I can remember my mom walking in to put laundry away and just shaking her head at her young girls bundled up against frost in the 100+ heat.

I remember playing in our play room before my youngest sister was born and we needed that room for another bedroom. Fisher Price People, Playmobil, dress-up, baby dolls, school... The room seemed like magic because it could be anything you wanted.

I remember playing outside. My parents had to put up a chain link fence because people were always walking through our yard and scaring us to death. We would climb to the top of our swingset, as if no one could reach us. After the fence we would climb to the top and sing at the top of our lungs, secure that no one would bother us.

I remember playing with our best friends, the family from across the street. They had six children (four when I was young) and we all played together. Bike riding on the sleepy circle, softball with my dad in the back yard, catching lightning bugs (and naming them!), playing in small plastic pools of water, and anything else in our perfect yard.

I remember angrily practicing my piano scales on the ancient upright piano in our living room. I remember crying when my parents sold the piano.

I remember the huge garden at one end of our yard. I remember hating the bugs, the heat and the dirt, unfortunately feelings that remain to this day. You will never read my name in any gardening article! I remember eating peas straight out of the pod - nothing ever tasted as good as that.

I remember taking baths with my sister in the tiny bathroom. We'd close the shower door and slide from one side of the bath to the other - the goal being to splash the ceiling. Sorry, mom!

I remember when I had my own room, as a not quite teenager. Decorated my way with garish wallpaper border over the sweet rocking horses. My mom must have hated to see those rocking horses go but she still let me make the room my own. I remember arranging my bed so I could look out the window at night, at the stars and the moon. I remember praying in that bed, about my future, my family, and my hopes and dreams.

I remember growing older and moving back in with my younger sister. I didn't mind too much: we were having a baby brother! I remember going to the room my youngest sister & brother shared in the very early morning. I'd pick up the baby from his crib and he'd smile at me. I'd change his diaper and take him back to my room, where he would play on my bed until other people started getting up. I slept on the bottom bunk, a double size bed. He'd try to reach the top and we'd poke the matress so Lulu would wake up.

I remember a boy coming to pick me up before church one Sunday night. I remember that boy asking me to the church Valentine Banquet. I remember sitting on the tiny concrete porch and talking until it was curfew (mine). I remember watching him drive away and thinking, "He'll be back tomorrow." He always was.

I remembering packing my things in my room, preparing to move them to the apartment that I would share with my Prince Charming. I remember being sad that Lulu's piggy bank wouldn't stand next to my piggy bank any longer. I remember coming across "treasures" from my childhood and wondering if I could really leave everything I had loved so well. I wasn't just leaving home - they were leaving me too.

My dad had accepted a new pastorate, this time back in Ohio where he had lived most of his life, except the fourteen years we spent in Tennessee. I would marry my prince but I would no longer be able to go home, even to visit. Everything was gone in a matter of weeks.

No more snowball fights in the rare event that we got snow, no more running through the sprinkler, no more swinging "high enough to touch the sky", no more late night whispers with Lulu, no more family movie nights with popcorn, no more lilacs right outside my window, no more fighting for the bathroom (hey, I had two sisters!), no more slamming my door in adolescent pique, no more washing dishes for a family of six that inexplicably did. not. have. a. dishwasher., no more waiting for Prince Charming to come over when he finished work, no more dreaming about what the future might hold. The future had come and the house that had sheltered me from the age of 4 was ours no longer.

I've been back once to see the house. It looks so small now, although I never thought it very big. The Christmas trees we planted are big now. It looks a little shabby, a little...unloved. I decided I don't want to see it again, at least not for a long time. It had its faults but I loved it. I'd like to remember it as a magical place. Because it was.

You can read more childhood home memories at Owlhaven, hosted by Mary.


Rebekah said...

My sister is 40 something and to this day she will not watch the Wizard of Oz. I, on the other hand, loved the movie.
Those are wonderful memories.

Owlhaven said...

This was great!! I also hated the Wizard of Oz

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