The small townhouse always had the inviting fragrance of freshly cut flowers in the morning and the delicious aroma of my mother’s secret recipes in the early evening. Anyone who entered was immediately greeted by the fragrances and found themselves staying a little longer than they planned. The delicate light from my grandmother’s antique lamp beckoned sleep and the faded striped cushions on the worn living room couch held many a drowsy head in those days. The inside of the house consisted of rooms that were small and barely separated so that you always knew what was going on in the next room. From the living room, you could see my mother giggling at one of my father’s corny jokes as they prepared supper together. In the living room, my older brother was most likely teasing my sister and me and tickling us until we screamed. We played games of “go-fish” and Chinese checkers as we waited for supper to be ready. We always ate dinner together in the dining room that barely separated the kitchen from the living room. The dinner table was a small wooden square that had wobbly legs and shook when one of us laughed. Sometimes trivial arguments took place when my brother would hurl mashed potatoes from his spoon at my sister or me.
After dinner, my sister and I raced to see who could make it up the stairs first to put our pajamas on for bed. My dad read stories to us and often told us stories from when he was a boy. It was a warm house. It was warm even in the icy winter months when the heat was turned off at night to save money. My younger sister and I snuggled together in the bed we shared and used our hairbrushes as microphones as we lip-synched the songs on our tiny radio. Sometimes during those nights we played “Candyland’ when we were supposed to be asleep—until we were caught. The outside of our house looked much like the rest of the houses in the neighborhood. The peeling green paint flaked off into the small patch of dirt my mother used as a flower garden. The sidewalk was gray and covered with brown hopscotch patterns from the tree bark we used as chalk. The front door had an outside door that had a torn and tattered screen that hung down lifelessly. We always knew when someone was about to knock on the door by the long painful screech it made when it was opened. By the door sat a rusted mailbox and the crooked numbers of our address. The crumbling cement step in front of the door was a perfect location for cheering during the kickball games that were held daily in the middle of the street.
Everything (he kept saying) is something it isn't. And everybody is always somewhere else. Maybe it was the city, being in the city, that made him feel how queer everything was and that it was something else. Maybe (he kept thinking) it was the names of the things. The names were tex and frequently kid. Or they were flex and old or they were duro id (sand) or flex san (duro), but everything was ...
The back of the house faced a dirty pond the color of pea soup. Generations of ducks inhabited the pond along with shy turtles that sunned themselves on the rotting logs that lay by the overgrown grass on the muddy bank. My mother took me out there often to throw bread to the babbling ducks over the rusty fence that separated us from their sanctuary. We don’t live in that house anymore. I like to drive by there sometimes and observe the changes that have been made to it. The flaky green paint is gone and replaced with a fresh coat of white paint. The new door no longer cries out when opened. There is a new shiny mailbox by the door. The rusty fence in the backyard no longer exists—a modern wooden one has taken its place. The house that I grew up in only exists in my memory now. It brings back very happy memories for me even though it wasn’t a big house or a fancy house. I often think about it in our new house when I sit in the delicate light of my grandmother’s lamp. My memories of it are much like the way a person can be—not very attractive on the outside, but absolutely warm and beautiful on the inside.