There are only seven homes on the tiny sloped street I grew up on, and mine was the house at the very top. This Monday, by the time Mom and I reached the house Mom's great-aunt Clarice once called "a doll house--just a doll house, Christine!"--I was so shocked by the appearance of the state of the first six houses, the current condition of my own former home barely made an impression. Mom didn't even feel safe the few minutes we spent on the street before walking back to where we'd parked the car.
I have already dreamed of it twice since then: In one dream, there was a sense of danger in the air and I knew something bad was about to happen somewhere on the street, and in the other, Mom and I were sitting where we'd parked the car Monday and seeing our former street as it had looked when the town was first founded. In that gift of a dream, what is now the literal junkyard at the foot of the street was still all meadow, and part of the creek that winds through town opened onto a pond.
Seeing it again has made my beautiful childhood there seem even more incredible. "When my family lived there in the 80s," I recounted to the city council, "It was such a pretty and well-kept little street. Good people, nice neighbors, pretty houses and yards, roses and Lilac bushes, clean porches. . . .Seeing it this past weekend was truly saddening. If I had the money to throw at it, I'd love to buy it all up and completely restore it to its 1980s sweetness. It really used to be a charming little family street." Oh, truly! What fun--what glorious FUN--it would be to play Daddy Warbucks and bring the street back to life. . .repair and repaint the houses, remove all the trash and junk cars, redo the landscaping, fix all the broken fencing, replant the roses that used to separate a couple of the yards. . . .Ah! I had expected it to look different, of course--twenty-seven years have passed since we lived there--but not dilapidated and depressed. Maybe someday, it will take a turn for the better. I have been telling my parents since I was a kid that if our former house ever came up for sale and I had the money to buy it, I would really be tempted, and oh my, yes: That one and all the rest, by God, so that someday another almost-five-year-old girl could move into a blue "doll house" and sit inside one of her neighbor's heavenly-smelling Lilac bushes with her new friends and use another neighbor's fallen rose petals as faux makeup and pretend her parents' blue and pink gingham front porch is the judges' station she needs to acknowledge before beginning her Olympic gymnastics floor routine. Oh, beautiful days! And poor little street. ♥
I continue to write about it all, still sharing the table with Stuffed. While home, I told my parents about the memoir project, and they answered a bunch of questions I had about those years. We laughed Monday night as I read aloud a few of the entries from diaries I'd kept as a nine, ten, and eleven-year-old in that dear little house. Dad especially enjoyed 1988's mention that "I gave Dad some 'Almond Joys' for Father's Day!"--since I had just, twenty-seven Father's Days later, given him the same thing for the same occasion. Ha! Sweet family, year after year.