My childhood home showed up for sale today and it brought up a lot of memories.
The house has not been touched since I was a child. It is still gingerbread brown. The layers of mint-ice-cream-green lead paint is still peeling like flakes of white chocolate from the metal back door. The deck that felt large when I was a child is rotting away and being engulfed in ferns. Even the roof has not been cleaned.
When I was about six, I found an album of graphic photographs of my parents. I hastily shoved them into a red metal cash box, climbed through the small window in the loft and stashed it under the eaves. I wonder if it is still there. I wonder if anyone ever found it.
The blue pole barn that my father and I used to clean deer in is still there – and still looks new. I remember stringing the deer up by their legs and watching the blood congeal on the cement floor in large, dark pools.
My father died when I was a child and all of the memories I have of him are tied to this place. We were inseparable. My first word was “Dada”. He had no rules for how old a child must be before they could do something. I was mowing the lawn on our riding lawn mower when I was 2 and half. He lowered all of the door knobs for me so I could go where I pleased – much to my mother’s disdain. He loved lilacs and I wonder if the row if them is still growing along the driveway.
I cannot find my childhood home on google maps. It is buried deep in the wooded foothills of the cascade mountains. The mile long driveway is completely obscured from the peering eyes of the satelites by the long cedar and douglas fir boughs.
The house itself it tiny; a mere 410 square feet. It boasted 2 cupboard and an enameled cast iron tub.
The house was never meant to be permanent. My parents purchased the 20 acres of land with the intention of building a log cabin-style home on it. It was meant to be a short term residence. But then he died unexpectedly in a car accident on an icy road. He was an organ donor and died young in cold conditions. I am told that he saved the lives of several people. I like to think that pieces of him are still alive out there – my father’s heart still beating and keeping someone’s family whole for a little while longer.
He was the sole breadwinner for my family. My mother was a stay-at-home mom. They were not married so she got nothing. My little sister and I were very small and my older half-brother wasn’t technically his child, so social security paid out very little.
My mom stopped taking care of herself. She never gave her space self to grieve because the world never gave her that space. She was left with no job, little money, and three children under the age of 10. My little sister wasn’t one year old yet. She suffered the most. She did not understand where daddy had gone, only that he hadn’t come back. So she screamed and screamed and screamed. She would scream until she vomited and then would scream some more. She would scream until she slept. To this day, I am able to deal with screaming children better than anyone I know.
My mother tried to find a job. We lived in a remote area and there was not a lot of work. Before becoming a stay at home mom, she had been a sales woman. She had worked as a buyer for a fancy couture boutique in California called the Golden Door. She had also been a real estate agent and a buyer for a jewelry store. But there were no sales positions available in the area.
And no one would watch my sister. She tried. We went through sitter after sitter and no one could handle her. All she would do is scream. One sitter held on for a couple of months before telling my mother that her husband said he would divorce her if she didn’t stop watching my sister.
So mom didn’t work. First the power went out. And the water got turned off. And we didn’t eat. And our septic backed up, and the floors rotted out, and our car broke down, and her spirit broke down, and we made do with very little for a very long time. Eventually, we lost the property and moved to a shitty trailer park where our problems were the same but the view was less pretty. My mom got a job 7 years after my dad passed.
My father died when we lived at that house, my mother died there. And so did my childhood. And now it is for sale.
I hope that someone picks up our broken dream and pieces it together to build that log cabin my parents always wanted. I hope someone takes the run down house and makes it a happy place. For me, it is a happy place. It’s where my father still lives in my memories, and where I last saw my mother smile a real smile. The last place I got to play and be silly and not care about the world.