Friday, March 26, 2010
It's surprising how much a memory is built around things that go unnoticed at the time.
Like, getting cuts on your hands from picking long, green crab grass along the fence to feed the big dirty-white horse that lived next to Grandpa's house. Or Dad telling us to lay our hands flat when feeding said horse said grass because, if you don't, that big horse will bite your tiny hand.
Or camping in the big, orange cloth tent outside Grandpa's house in the summer, and Mom holding the flashlight while Dad made images silhouetted against the tent wall, of birds flying, or rabbits conversing. What were the other animals?
Or the wall of mirrors inside Grandpa's house, with the retro brown carpet, bright-orange fake fireplace, and Grandpa's 45 degree temperatures that were reached as he continued to stuff wood from the back shed into the black stove. And Grandma's multiple couch sets: the white one we weren't allowed to sit on. The plastic butterflies on the mirrors, the mouse poop in the cupboard, the 'forest' behind the white couch, and the piano.
We never did play well.
Trying on Grandma's pink shoes from her closet. And secretly splashing her perfume onto our wrists in her parlour: pink, red, roses, white, jewelry.
Do you remember the deer in the fields below the house? And the steep bank we weren't allowed to get close to. And the drives in the Oldsmobile wagon to the ranch, with the water pump and the cows licking the windows as we sat inside the car screaming. Screaming with excitement.
But mostly, I remember being told to go to bed in the attic, with the teddy bears and Grandma's dresses. I even remember the smell - like a closet left unopened and without fresh air - and the secret back door, dark and wooden, that we always wanted to open and explore but were too scared to ever do it.
And especially, after being told to go to bed, Mom would stay up with Grandpa, they would shuffle their cards at the kitchen table, and play a game of crib. Grandpa chewed his tabacco, had his hair slicked back (the white roots showing beneath the black of his hair), with a toothpick hanging from his mouth.
And Mom would say, "Dad! Stop being so bad," every time Grandpa made a silly comment which preceded with his wheezing laugh.
That's what I remember, most. Best.