This week I’m mulling a different door—one to my past.
I went home this month and that door creaked open (not the one in the picture, the one in my brain) and memories began to creep out. (They don’t flood anymore. That takes too much energy.)
My first thought was how small everything looked and the streets of my hometown did not look as long as they felt when I was little walking home from the library or school. Now I know how amazing the Hyatt Theater really is. Back then it was just our movie theater.
The speed of the memories picks up when I get home, though. Yes, the house has changed a lot since I left it, but the…ghost of our childhood home is still there. As I look around, the present fades like a cool movie effect and I see it the way it was. The clothesline we used to make blanket houses. The trees we climbed like monkeys. (When did I get afraid of heights? I sure wasn’t back then!) The carpet of alfalfa behind our house.
And my bedroom. Red shag carpet. Shelves and desk crafted by my dad. The dresser with the attached mirror that made the room look bigger but stole walking space. When the addition was finished, my sister and I moved in there together. We needed to be, because my dad finished the bedrooms and bathroom before he finished the family room—and the opening that connected us to the rest of the house. It’s a bit fuzzy, but I can remember going outside to go to bed.
I was afraid of the dark. Of monsters under the bed. Bears. The bogeyman. You name it, my out-of-control imagination produced it at night. (It works for me now, but back then….)
And my brothers helped. I think they had a secret business called Tormenters-R-Us. I remember one time, a brother snuck into our room, belly crawled under the bed and began to sit up on my side of the bed. His plan was to shine the flashlight under his chin and scare me into a satisfying shriek. But I opened my eyes, just as he got level with the bed.
I stared at him.
He stared at me.
Then he slid back down under the bed and belly crawled back to his room.
And after a period of wariness, I went to sleep.
I still have no clue why my brothers felt such a driving need to prank my sister and I. I have a husband and raised a son and men still baffle me.
Of course, the flip side of brothers (and husbands and sons), is the fierce protectiveness. My brothers always reserved the right to tease to themselves. Anyone else messed with us and it was war. Maybe it was this protectiveness that made me so willing to follow them through abuse and peril, to hell and back.
For a bunch of kids, we did that trip a lot, much to my mother’s chagrin now that she knows.
I have this memory of clinging, yes, like a monkey, to one brother’s back while he steered his motorcycle over a jump. Hmm, maybe that’s when I developed a fear of heights?
Memories. Family. Home. I returned to the home of my adulthood feeling both amused and grateful for all of it. I give my brothers all the credit for my fictional felonius inclinations. And I suspect that my gleeful torture of my characters was learned in the crucible of my childhood.
Does the door open for you? Opens to what? To when? Or to who? Please share. You know I love those comments. I love them so much, I enter them into my monthly drawing for an AnaBanana gift basket ($25 value) that will cure some of what ails you. A winner will be announced the first blog post of the new month.
“Pauline Baird Jones’ debut contemporary, [The Spy Who Kissed Me] is a delightful madcap romp that will leave readers eagerly anticipating future works by this amazing new talent.” Patricia Rouse, Romantic Times Columnist
You can buy it now in digital or audio!
Used print editions also floating around, though they don’t have the epilogue. 🙂