As I opened the black pages of the worn photo book, moments in time found new life. A small black and white photo reminded me of a small child I hardly remember and a house that held my memories.
The ache for home lives in all of us.—Maya Angelou
I was four years old when we moved into a house. Don’t ask why or how I remember.
With no trees, the wind created a dust storm across the sandy lot. When you stood outside, you could still smell the clinging life of cedar trees in the siding.
The constant whir of the attic fan in the hallway brought little relief from the muggy heat of a summer night. Even the soft cotton gown with dancing flowers clung to my skin.
The open window invited the sounds of the night into my room and through my dreams. Frogs croaked love songs across the expansive field behind the house as moonbeams shaped shadows large and small on the wall.
This was the mid-fifties, a typical post-war housing subdivision in the suburbs of Houston. Now, the suburbs stretch more than 50 miles from downtown.
Our house sat on an oversized lot that faced a park making the backyard stretch beyond the boundaries of our chain-link fence. Although we didn’t have back neighbors, I vividly remember the neighbors on each side of us. Mrs. Getz and her son lived on one side. Len and Charlie, with their baby daughter, on the other side, grew into our extended family even after we moved away.
I relished the opportunity to visit Mrs. Getz because she always had ready what she referred to as “loot.” My loot might be a few pieces of candy or some of her fresh baked cookies or brownies.
Errands to her house felt like walking into a fairytale world. I gazed in awe of the delicate figurines and teacups sitting pristinely on elegant tables. Each one dared me to touch, and oh, I wanted to hold them in my hand and take them with me.
The back patio held my stage. Well, you might refer to it as a picnic table — handmade by my dad, not one of those store-bought things. He painted it green.
Holding tightly to my microphone—a jump rope, I stood ready to wow the crowd. I sang my heart out to everyone but really no one—but me and my imaginary fans. Music always filled the air in that house, and as we drove around in the old 1949 Ford. I knew lots of songs.
That small two-room house (expanded to four more children, two additional bedrooms, and a den by the time we moved) wasn’t fancy. We didn’t have any fine antiques or silver. But the polished wooden floors and spotless kitchen reflected a simple life.
The house with green cedar siding became a home—my childhood home.
“No matter under what circumstances you leave it, home does not cease to be home. No matter how you lived there—well or poorly.” – Joseph Brodsky