H is for Home
The title comes from “The Philadelphia Story,” thanks to today’s Daily Prompt, “the silver screen.” The rest of the post is inspired by a re-reading of Wil Wheaton’s “Houses in Motion,” found in his book, Dancing Barefoot.
Progress means that sometimes something has to go. In the case of the once ‘small town’ a.k.a. “Twin Peaks,” an entire block of homes will come down on Bendigo Street.
Yes, somehow the town has gone away from three grocers to ‘two big chains, and two independent marts (right across the street from each other). The third ‘big-time grocer’ went out of business state-wide, so that space is an independent hardware store.
There used to be an Rx Drug Store, but that’s now the health food store beside a bakery, no less. Once upon a time, four gas stations existed on the main street, only two remain. The independent mart took the space of one. Another has become an affordable diner, dwarfed by a larger station when that business grew. The third has gone from gas station to espresso stand to thrift shop.
The movie theatre still stands, along with the landmark café made famous by David Lynch’s television show. Then there’s the ‘great hamburger stand’ in the middle of town (half-hidden thanks to the building out of a building that was once one-story and in line with the malt shop).
Going back to Bendigo Street. A ‘proper drug store’ is coming to town. So the four houses on Bendigo Street must go. The one above is the one I grew up in. Living room up front, oil stove in the corner. Master bedroom with a bathroom between it and the second room.
I was skillful at climbing in and out of that window at a young age, either to play with my friend next door (and on the other side of the house) or to spend time on the rope swing that had the same piece of wood for a seat for a good ten years.
The wonderful thing about my room – aside from a closet that became the catch-all of every unseasonable thing – was the space I could climb up and into meant for linens. My parents didn’t know of that space for ages, so armed with trusty bear, flashlight, book, and a blanket, I’d read well beyond bedtime.
Then my brother was born.
A move into the next room, a little more than half the size but twice the light, the best feature was having so few steps to go from my room to his if I ever heard him cry. What was once my ‘personal library’ became his battlefield/racetrack/building room. By then, the ‘special place’ in the linen closet was found and secured by our parents to prevent future use.
Quite all right as my brother turned the lower pantry cupboard into his mini-apartment. We learned how to move the lone shelf from the back to the front, close the door so it wouldn’t lock and he had his own space, complete with Transformers, Match-cars, Legos, flashlight and his trusty bear.
The kitchen was almost the same size as the living room (or so it seemed in youth). I learned how to cook cereal grandpa’s way. Learned never to trust ‘yellow eggs’ by an aunt’s way. I learned to skate in that small space. My brother perfected ‘sock-sliding,’ a skill I think that helped him transition so well with snowboarding, skiing, skating and everything else that required balance.
Muddy gravel marks where the work trucks have gone, removing the trees and sturdy plants from the neighboring homes, once stood thick, soft grass with a tall tree that became fort building, track racing, swing-time and any other adventure that sparked our interest. Only a white fence between the yard and the alleyway, during a time where there weren’t as many fears as today.
On warm days, we’d carry the laundry down the steps to the line, create impromptu plays with the sheets as curtains and read/color/draw at the picnic table until we and the laundry were required to come in.
Many memories existed within those four walls. I asked to take one last look before it and the other three houses come down, but the concern of asbestos prevented that option.
So, being on the outside looking in, looking back, a physical part of my past will be torn down, gone as of Monday. It’s only a place; what, who matters most remains in my heart.
Dear reader, don’t think “I have forgotten my compass.” (a line Liz Imbrie says to Macaulay Connor just before the line inspiring today’s title/post.) True, looking back has its blessings and burdens. Looking to the future can be filled with either fears or fantastical trials and bucket lists goals. It’s the present that matters.
Presently, while I’m a bit saddened to see such a major change happen on the street where I lived, progress and opportunity are good, too. Change happens from many directions, be it “south-by-southwest parlor-by-living-room,” across country, state, my hometown, or within myself.
*This piece was first published as “I’d say south-by-southwest, parlor-by-living-room.”