Saturday, July 28, 2007

That old house...

Last night was restless. My rambling brought me to an early childhood memory I hadn't crossed in years:

Money was tight and for cheap entertainment my parents would browse the local real estate listing for old country homes in need of repair. Gas was cheap in those days, so after my parent's Saturday breakfast of coffee and cigarettes, we'd all pack into the car.

Headed for the country, we'd rock to 96-X, with the windows down. Stop lights provided the perfect forum to shout hillside desires: a big garden with a scarecrow we'd make out of dad's old postman uniforms; a big barn with a tire swing where we'd spend afterschool afternons; a large field for dirt bike and four-wheeler drives; a seat window to over look the pasture where our horse would graze.

Most of the houses we visited run together like a miscellaneous mosaic. An old uninhabital house on the hill is the only tangible memory.

Its siluett resembled a house children would fear in a horror movie. Even the old rock drive seemed to whisper, "turn around," when we headed for front stoop. The door that once defined the bonderies of inside and out had fallen years ago. It provided the only "welcome" mat on the large wrap-around pourch. Most of the windows had been broken or stolen. The fragmented kitchen floor offered a human checker board for my brother and I to hop, jump and king-- until an army of rats chased us out the back exit, that also lacked a door.

It was in this house I discoved that toilets did not flush into a hole in the bottom of the floor. There were no toilets in the bathrooms, nor holes where I thought toilets should have stood. Holes were else where, however. The livingroom ceiling offered a skylight of the fourth bedroom. Old rusty pipes and primitive electric wiring was exposed where the old plaster once covered the walls. Where there was still plaster, mold had grown like dark wall paper.

But the land was green and large. It offered a back yard pond and a chicken coop. I'd gather eggs for my mom's famous Sunday breakfast. The horizon over the old stone wall that marked the perimeter of Scarecrow's future garden offered my brother a field of motor bike dreams. About the only thing not requiring poetic license was the tire swing that hung in the old red barn. My parents had even promised me the room with a seat window, the largest in the house.

It wasn't until late last night that I realized that that old house was a metaphor for the marriage of my parents.

It was ugly and scary. It had been eroded by the years of weathering pain, guilt, and resentfulness. Jealousy had covered its degenerated walls with a dark haze, and chased away any sign of laughter or joy.

Yet it had once been a glorified and polished gem. Any fool could see that. My parents could even anticipate the return of its acme. My brother and I were certainly game.

But mom and dad never bought that house. They never fully committed. Doing so would require work and effort that neither were willing to give. Perhaps they couldn't? The lack of trust and abundance of malevolence was omnipotent. Triumphant.

Today, I'm sure they bull dozed that damn house a decade ago. The pond has been filled for years. A Super Walmart, complete with parking-space-acreage, is all that remains. Almost ten years later, I'm sure it all is as ugly as my parent's divorce.

Perhaps my wife and I will gather eggs for this Sunday's breakfast.

1 Babble-Backs:

Kristina said...

You really are a writer.


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