Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Day 9: The house with the big open hall and stairs and lofty 2nd floor—D.E.R.
Some times all we have are memories. There are no left over tokens of a life once lived. There are no photographs to correct our idealistic recollections so who's to say our recollections are idealistic? But if we're honest, we'll admit it ourselves simply because we love recalling the memories so much.
So it is with a place I once called home. It was two houses after the apartment where I slept in the closet. While that was a fun adventure in and of itself and some thing that all my friends used to envy me for, it was the "log house" that was the headquarters for all my greatest youthful adventures.
If I were to guess, I would probably say that I lived in the log house from age 7 to age 12, give or take a bit of time that makes little difference as a youngster. My family and I stumbled into renting the "blue house" and then the log house from an older couple with children all grown and mostly married. A good portion of the family lived all around the homestead and helped take care of the family landscaping business. We were the only non-family members on the whole road, but from the start we were counted as part of the family. Mr. and Mrs. Goode were another set of grandparents to me. I played with their granddaughters, I biked and hiked with their grandsons, and I went to visit them up the gravel road whenever the fancy struck me just because I could. Mr. Goode's antique car collection was the reason for many trips to see him, I'll admit. They fascinated me. I couldn't tell you now what kinds of cars he had, other than a Pontiac LeMans that my grandfather sold him, yet the impression of their grandeur is still implanted in my memory.
The log house, back garden, surrounding woods, and the gravel road that lead down to the creek were a youngster's paradise. The traffic along the gravel road was pretty well limited to family and friends who trekked all the way to the end of the road to go to Mrs. Goode's (the daughter-in-law) hair salon, so even the road was free for the playing. It was that gravel road where I had my worst bike wreck to date—and the one I credit with giving me back issues I still have to this day. It was that creek at the end of that gravel road where I learned how to fish. It was those woods that introduced me to copperheads, tics, moss, ferns, deer, and dirt all of which I still have a firm respect for and fascination of to this day. It was that garden where I first got a taste of the joys of community life because it was there that I helped Mrs. Goode pick vegetables and it was there that hot air balloon flying overhead would hover to chat for a bit. But at the center of all these dear memories was the log house itself. I have yet to find as fun a home anywhere. From lay out to setting, it was the most unique log home I've ever seen or been in, and among the most unique homes in general I've ever seen. The best part about it was the open ceiling to the 2nd floor. To not have a ceiling your living room is pretty darn cool, but it was especially cool as a kid. On the 2nd floor there was room to walk along the outside of the railing and look down into the living room from all sides. That was the most fun part, because it was that advantage that spurred many a creative invention most of which involved pulleys and rope. I remember one ingenious design in particular that was an endeavor to help Mom get the laundry from the first floor to the second. After an attempt or two, the result of which was the tumbling and undoing of nicely folded laundry, I think it ended up working actually. But in the end the process took just as much time as carrying the load up the stairs!
And then there were the "nooks". My second favorite part of the log house. The down stairs nook I best remember for being where I set up my first punching bag. I had always wanted a punching bag for some reason and so I took the liberty of making one myself using old socks stuffed into a larger sock and, you guessed it, rope. I think I envisioned myself a boxer in the downstairs nook because I remember spending a lot of time with that silly stuffed sock on a string! The up stairs nook ended up being my indoor play place. I didn't spend half as much time indoors as I did out but that nook was the place where I kept my toys and whatever "valuables" I held dear as a kid. It was a little nook that went with the slanting of the roof and being too small for a door was partitioned off by a curtain instead. There was something special about that curtain for me, it was just substantial enough to provide some closure and a safe place to retreat to, but just sheer enough to know that the outside world was just on the other side.
I won't hesitate to say that that log house with the address of 2420 West Mountain Street was by far the best place I've ever lived. But I also won't hesitate to say that I probably think that simply because of the memories. Memories of a simpler time, a simpler place, memories of the innocence and adventure of childhood. Memories of many firsts: the first time I went fishing, the first time I got to drive a car, my first and only dog, MacGyver, whom we called Mac for short. There are some pictures, but mostly memories. Memories vague with age right along side memories vivid with idealistic recollection. All in all, they have become the tokens of a life once lived and a foundation for greater things to come.