Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Going Home Again

They say you can't go home again.

We all know that you can.

It just isn't the same place as it used to be. Not because we've moved or the place is different. It is we who are that is different. Because we see everywhere, even a place as familiar as "home," in the context of who we are at the time we are considering it, home is different than home used to be. This week, I'm discovering just how familiar and how alien home can be.

Last night, for the first time in my entire life, I spent a night in my childhood home completely alone. I've never been alone in this house without the anticipation of someone else coming "home" and joining me shortly. I had intended to stay at a hotel or at my sister's these last two nights but since my brother did not drain the water, I decided to stay here instead. It's right where the work is, comfortable, familiar, and I don't have to move again until I'm ready to leave to go to my now "home".

I've been looking at and scanning photos out of the drawer where my mom has perpetually kept them. I've found photos of other homes I've had through the years. While they are all familiar and nice to look back on, no place on earth spells "home" to me like this one does. For once thing, I grew up in this house. For another, my parents built this house. Everywhere I look, I see a nail my father hammered in himself (or where it would be under a tiny indentation made where he counter-sunk and filled the hole made by each nail head) or a board he cut. I see storm windows that he made himself to his own design and I even found the receipt for the materials he used to make them! Along with all his records of building this house, stud by stud, nail by nail and the specifications for most of the products he used. I remember the day the chandelier hanging over this dining room table where I sit typing was delivered as well as the day I pulled the corner cabinet behind me over when I was swinging on the lower door. To this day, some fifty years later, my Mother cannot say whether she was more concerned with me being squished beneath a piece of furniture or breaking every piece of china and crystal in the cabinet! Not everything broke, but a lot of it did. I rather vividly recall it happening. Thank goodness some memories are short. I don't recall the spanking I know I got for doing it! *grin*

I can stand in what we call the "girl's room" and remember the time we were jumping off the top trundle bed onto the bottom one, hoping to rebound high enough to touch the ceiling. My mom had had the couch upholstered in an embossed vinyl that was supposed to be impervious to children's damage. It had the benefit of serving as an early warning system to a child with keen hearing. Every time someone got off the couch, it "whooshed" air back inside, warning said child of an impending parent! In this case, it was the third time that night she was having to come in and we all knew that spankings were coming. Quickly, I handed out the dinner plates of my sister's toy dishes and indicated that they were to put the metal plate in the seat of their pajamas.

My mom came in swiftly, already yapping at us about playing when we should be sleeping, breaking the furniture that we were lucky to have and telling us about places where children appreciated having no bed at all in which to sleep. She reached for my left hand with her left, hauling mine upward, the better to forestall my attempts to run. Her right hand swooped down to make contact with my pajama-ed bottom... and the metal plate hidden inside. She yowed and called my father to come in and deal with "your daughter"! He didn't, of course. "What did they do? Did they kill someone?" Nothing much fazed my father.

I had, of course, "killed" her hand. Ever resourceful and not realistically expecting my father to come in and spank me himself, pacifist that Daddy was, my mom removed the plate, grabbed my right hand with her throbbing hand and spanked me with her left and then made the others take the plates out and spanked them too. It has been at least fifty years and she still does not see the humor in this or applaud my quick thinking! Sheesh!

Some things never change.


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