There is the chipped driveway where I shot baskets with Dad; where my brother ran over me with his bike and broke my leg (on accident). I was three. He was six. He hung his head as I told every single person that would listen,
“My brother did it.”
There is the back yard, bigger in my memory that in reality, with its garden, its giant sandbox (with a roof), its clothesline pole that tripled as a tetherball game and a place to tie up the dog. We’d pull into the driveway, jump out of the car, and sprint to that pole to unchain the dog. That dog tore circles around the house with the sheer joy of the newly unbound.
There is the tent set up for neighborhood sleepovers, otherwise known as opportunities to run around the neighborhood at two in the morning.
There are the side yards, one where my mother spread a blanket for popcorn picnics; the other where I would hide after running away. “I’m running away,” I’d announce, and make it as far as there, outside of my brother’s window where he would talk to me through the screen, encouraging me either to come inside or run further. I’m not sure which.
There is the neighbor’s house. The neighbors who left their door unlocked when not home. The house we would take turns entering, each kid daring the next to go in further. I touched their bed. I win.
There is the living room window, the Christmas tree, the place where we would smush our noses looking for Rudolph’s red glow.
There is the kitchen, the table for homework and birthday cakes and taco salad and sloppy joes and salmon patties and Pinochle.
There is my parents’ room where my mother would hide so that the bird would not shit on her head when we let it out of its cage.
There is my room with its poster covered walls – Larry Bird #33, Kevin McHale #32, Michael Jordan #23, Spud Webb #4 – not your typical teenage girls posters save for the life sized Patrick Swayze on the back of the door. There is the wood desk with the glass top, the desk that held my diaries and all of my secrets. And my sticker collection.
There is my canopy bed, with the clock radio beside it – the bed where I lay at night with that radio turned down low so that my parents couldn’t hear me getting my education over the airwaves. “This is Dr. Ruth Westheimer, Sexually Speaking. You are on the air.”
There is the family room built by my father with the help of friends and family and four letter words. The wood burning stove heated up the house from one corner, the L-shaped couch in the other. That couch, where I laid my head in Mom’s lap. That couch, with a bucket and TV tray beside it on sick days. That couch, from which this fourteen year old girl covered in chicken pox conquered every level of Mario Brothers. That couch, where this girl made out with that boy as Saturday Night Live played on the TV and parents slept on the other side of the wall. That boy who became that husband.
There is the For Sale sign in the front yard of the home that held me.
I do not miss that house, for all that was important made the move, packed tightly inside of my memory.