One link led to another and I found myself on a real estate website with a search box. On a whim, I entered the address of the house where I grew up. We lived on Marlow Street from the time of my earliest childhood memories until the summer before I started 4th grade.
It was a red brick house just like all the others on the street, except for the ivy that covered the front. The ivy is long gone. I remember driving by to visit the house periodically over the years, hardly recognizing the house without it.
Apparently our old house has changed hands several times. The most recent broker posted photographs of the house inside and out on the real estate site I had just accidentally discovered! Looking at the photographs, after not having seen the inside of the house for well over 50 years, was surreal. Even without furniture and with updated fixtures, I could easily identity the rooms. So many memories flooded back.
This was the house of my perpetually scabbed knees, Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little, the swing set in the back yard that lifted out of the ground if you swung too high, Bazooka bubble gum, climbing into bed with my parents after a bad dream, birthday parties in the basement with crepe paper twisted and stapled to the rafters, and baths with bubbles (and the occasional overly-curious cat).
“See the kitchen?” I spoke through the computer monitor to nobody in particular, “There used to be an island there—until my dad almost burned the house down making French fries.”
“And that picture window over there? That’s where the bench was.” The same bench is in my house now, a quilt covering the worn upholstery my mother re-did many times herself over the years.
There wasn’t a lot of storage in the house, which is probably why the realtor included a photo of the linen cupboard and the three drawers below it in the hallway off the kitchen. I doubt it helped sell the house in any way, but I am so grateful it was included in the online listing. What a gift!
My mother took in mending when we lived here. I can’t remember where the sewing machine was, probably in the bedroom. She hemmed skirts and trousers and replaced zippers for people in the neighborhood. She also made all my clothes. Her fabric scraps and mending were kept in the drawers below the cupboard where she put sheets and towels.
I remember, as if it were yesterday, asking her if I could cut up some fabric and make something. I must have been about five or six years old. She handed me the scissors and while she was doing something in the kitchen, I wrestled open the middle drawer. The memory is so strong I can almost see myself in this picture. I remember the drawer was jam packed with fabric. I rooted around for something I could pry loose. I found something that was pink and pretty and, without removing the entire piece of fabric from the drawer, I yanked out what I could and carefully cut some of it off. I pushed the drawer closed and remember being very proud that nothing was sticking out. I returned the scissors to Mom.
Several days passed. I have no idea what I made with the fabric, but I do remember helping Mom by getting out my new party dress so she could hem it. The pink one. The one with the new 6″ hole in the skirt.
I remember being truly surprised that my beautiful, and now ruined party dress, could have looked so much like a fabric scrap to me. It was as if it had somehow changed its molecular structure. I felt terrible when I realized what I had done, but I don’t recall Mom even being angry. She hugged me tight as I sobbed. Everything was going to be all right.
This Thanksgiving, as we remind ourselves of our blessings, let me put love at the top of my list.
I am grateful also to the unknown realtor for a most thorough online listing of the house on Marlow Street that brought me a photograph to accompany one of my most vivid memories of childhood. And thanks to the Universe for having me click on whatever link that was that got me to it.
Wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving,
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