I just happened to be thinking the other day about all the different places I have lived in my life, and it struck me that I have only ever lived in one real house in my entire life. Every other dwelling place has been an apartment. It was a rather strange, almost depressing thought. To think that I don’t have special memories of my childhood ‘home,’ but instead I have a compendium of memories of various apartments and townhouses, and at times I have to really think hard to remember the layout of a certain place, or how old I was when we lived there. The only stable unchangeable place was my grandparent’s house, in which they still live to this day.
I guess in retrospect it wasn’t so bad. But I sure do miss that house. The fact that that was the place where the majority of my abuse by my stepfather occurred mars and blurs the memories a bit, but there is enough good left for me to be thankful for how special that house really was to me.
I was 9 years old when we moved into the house in Davidsonville, Maryland. Even the name of the town invokes a slow and peaceful feeling of times gone by. The houses in the neighborhood were large and spaced a minimum of one acre apart. Our house was at the very end of a dead-end street, butted up against a magnificent cornfield that shone golden in the sunlight in summer and lay pregnant with promise during the winter. It nestled gracefully in the midst of over three acres of lush verdant grass, with one small end fenced off with a beautifully rough-hewn dark wood, ready and awaiting the horse that we were never to have.
The house itself was a pale sky-blue color that wrestled with the sky for attention from the sun. Lush flowerbeds lay at the foot of the house like ladies-in-waiting to the Queen. Walking inside, gleaming wooden floors beckoned you to slide across them in stockinged feet. Of course, you would get into trouble for doing this, but the temptation was sometimes just too great. The TV room, the large, mostly unused living room, the stately dining room. Passing by the double glass French doors, peeking out at the elegant brick patio that overlooked the 50-foot inground pool with water so clear that diving for pennies was almost too easy for words and a diving board that sat there and dared you to try to do a flip off of it.
The kitchen is next. One room nearly as big as my whole apartment is now. Beautiful parquet tiling, windows that look out over the pool. Off to the stairs. Huge master bedroom, of course, his and her sinks, a shower stall and a separate tub. I have trouble recalling exactly what it looked like. I didn’t like to linger there long. Down the hallway to the guest room. Modestly sized, and it never really did hold too many guests. Then to my suite. Yes. I did say suite. I had two rooms in that house. You walk in the first door, and there is my sitting room. Heavy white wicker furniture, perfect for a little girl, desk, hutch, chaise, three bookcases. (I told you I was a bookworm…lol) Through the far door into the bedroom. The same wicker furniture, double bed, two dressers, mirror. Windowseats in all of the windows. The window in the bedroom overlooked the front of the house, where I could look out on the front yard and the far end of the cornfield.
And I almost forgot the two most fun places in the house. The full attic, that stretched the entire length of the house, and which never held too much of anything as storage. My friends and I loved to go up there and play tag and make as much noise as possible if everyone else was on the first floor, because they wouldn’t be able to hear us. Then there was the basement. It wasn’t finished off, so it was unceremoniously grey and cemented, but down in that cool haven, my stepfather installed three arcade-size video games. We had Ms. Pac-Man, Baby Pac.Man, and Q-Bert. Oh, I couldn’t even begin to tell you the number of hours my friends and I spent down there wih those blipping and beeping machines, that I showed them how to rig so you could just give yourself credits instead of having to put in quarters. Man, I didn’t know too much back then, did I? I could have made a FORTUNE with those machines! 😀
My gentle friend Karen, who introduced me to The Sword of Shanarra, which is STILL one of my favorite books, and tuned me into the fact that, yes, I CAN draw, or do anything else for that matter if I really wanted to. Her family was Mormon, and when her mother became ill and passed away I had a hard time understanding their faith, and I felt angry at her for a long time. Now, I wish I could go back and say what I know and feel today to her back then. She was the first person I EVER told about my stepfather and what he was doing. What a shame that she was just as much of a little girl as I was, and only could give me a hug and beg me to tell a grown-up.
The 2 1/2 years we lived in that house were some of the most frightening and most idyllic that I can remember. Quite a paradox, huh? Summers of pool-splashing, video-game playing, woods-exploring. Since I went to Catholic school, I couldn’t share a school experience with my friends in the neighborhood, but as soon as we all got home, Karen and Barbra and I were inseparable, jumping rope, reading, drawing, roller skating, toilet-papering houses on Halloween, bugging Barbie’s two little sisters and Karen’s older brother, plotting ways to terrorize the boy that lived on the other side of me. Winters of sledding, going to Blue Knob to ski every weekend.
It actually took me some effort to remember a lot of those things. The other things are darkly overshadowing. A nearly countless array of recalled abuse scenarios. Never in my room in this particular place, for whatever reason. I am grateful at least for that much. My room was my sanctuary. It was in this house that I gathered the courage to inform my mother of what was happening to me. It was also in this house that my mother flatly refused to believe me. Then a few months before we moved outof that house, she married him.
I had a set of drums in that house. I experienced that house being robbed while we were away one weekend. I had my first taste of champagne one New Year’s in that house, sanctioned by my mother (oh, I felt so grown-up, but boy did I think that was yucky lol). I skinny-dipped in that pool one night with Karen and Barbie. I cried, pleaded, and begged not to move out of that house. But move we did.
Several months later, I came to visit Karen. The people who had bought our precious house…they had TRASHED it. The pool was green. Those hardwood floors that my mother hand-washed every week were scuffed, scarred, and dull. The walls were drawn on. It was heartbreaking.
What a wonderful house that was.

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Categories: Miscellany


tasha · January 29, 2003 at 12:38 pm

Tricia, you have such a great way with words. I could never describe the house as you did. I was picturing every room as I read and it seemed beautiful. I think it’s funny how much we have in common. Everytime I ready one of your postings, I can picture something similar that happened in my life!! So strange how you can block events out for so long and then have the smallest thing make the memories come flooding back.

Daphne · January 30, 2003 at 3:17 pm

Beautiful recollection – sad ending. I’ve only ever lived in a house at points (growing up) when we were staying with outhers for various reasons. I felt pretty silly when Juan and I started talking about getting our own home a few years ago and I said, “someday I want a real house…”
“What’s a real house,” he asked?
I paused and said, “… one with stairs on the inside.”

Lloyd · January 31, 2003 at 9:39 am

We all miss our houses huh?
What I cannot tell you is “I know exactly how you feel”. that just doesnt seem the most emphathetic comment to tell you at the moment.
I lost my house to when I moved out here, I felt like I had change a whole set of being. As if the usual places where I had my pasttimes were gone and suddenly, the whole area felt like it was gone beyond space and time.
It seems pretty awkward that we would feel such affinity with such material things, but to me.. a house is not a home… and a house is not a home if you never loved it.
and I surely loved mine.
This is a great entry, I’m printing it out as we speak and posting it on my desk-wall.

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