Houses, Homes #1
Six years old, and I wanted to buy a house. I didn’t know about square feet at the time, but if I had known, I’d say approximately three square feet would be perfectly palatial. Seven bedrooms, three bathrooms, three-storey with a basement and a big dining room, enough for my not-yet-acquired family of five and their two dogs and one cat. I wanted a wooden house with a medium-dark gloss finish, and shingles too. And a fence. And I’d do the landscaping—maybe cut a small square or rectangle from Mammy’s fake-grass rug on her porch. The family would love it, especially the identical twin girls who always knew what each other was thinking. The mom makes delicious cookies everyday, and the whole family sits down to eat at five o’clock when the dad gets home from work, no exceptions, except for maybe party night, which is Friday night, and the family eats pizza in front the tv while watching a movie (this is a time when “age-appropriate” was not a concept in our parents’ heads), maybe a scary one or one where they show boobs.
I wanted this house so bad, but I couldn’t afford it, and I never could get such a family anyway.
Instead, I had once ceramic blue loveseat that Mammy had given me from her vast knickknack collection, and two Glamour Gals dolls who sat on it, talking about their families who were never home but would be soon. And at least they had each other, best friends.
I know how times have changed me. No way do I want such a big house, even if I could afford it—too many places to hide or get lost. My family of five and no dogs (except for the downstairs tenants’ dogs) and two cats and 34 snails and some houseplants—we love our kitchen where our dining table is snug in the corner facing the window overlooking the alley. I’m happy I never got that dollhouse cause there’s no room for it in our house now anyway.
Tuesday, 30 September 2014
Houses, Homes #2
Our house was a camouflage and plaid, flannel, cotton, polyester forest we’d hide in, get wrapped up in with one big smoky embrace.
Our basement was the fun cave—Mom only ventured down there to dust on Saturday mornings, but otherwise, it was my and Dad’s hangout spot, our unperceived sanctuary where I’d sit on the yellow plastic saucer chair, and he’d enjoy rocking on the creaky plaid recliner he picked up from some rich person’s garbage in Camp Hill.
We watched football games together, mostly Penn State versus some inferior team, and we would take bets on who was gonna win. One dollar. He’d give me one dollar even when I lost the bet. That was my kind of gambling.
Dad would doze on and off during the game, but I was wide-wide-wired on the unlimited bottomless 2-liter bottles of Pepsi I was allowed to drink, and when the rocking of the plaid recliner slowed to a stop, I’d stare at the faux velvet mural that hung on our faux-wood wall. Some deer in the snowy forest. A buck in the foreground staring straight at me, the way deer always stare when they sense their predators in their space, those damn stares bore so hard into my skull that I know that’s the only weapon they have at a chance for survival. And I’d stare back and tell them they’re not going to get shot but look into the wall hanging anyway for a hunter in camouflage, a miniature version of Dad on the first day of the season, but I was never meant to find him, was I?
Just when, maybe, I thought I could spot the hunter behind a tree, something would stir. The buck still stared as Dad got up to fix the stove. The creak of the chair. The creak of the woodstove door. The clang of the poker. The thump of the clean-cut logs hitting the tiny red coals, and what I imagined was the cock and release of the rifle somewhere, and the deer going limp on the ground, turning the snow a cherry red, just like that.
Camouflage and plaid were what Dad wore the day before he died. It’s what I wished he’d worn in the casket and into the fire at the crematorium, just like we used to live, always, wrapped up in one big smoky embrace.