Thursday, June 23, 2011

Was our castle and our keep ...

As anyone who has ever seen a movie knows, sometimes it is important for the protagonist to stand in the front yard of her childhood home. To ramp up the decibels on pensive. Kick a stray soccer ball back to the young girl who is sleeping in her childhood bedroom. Put her hands in her pockets and hear the song "Eye of the Tiger" and imagine all the choreography that was performed on this slab of boulevard in 1985.

Barring that, a protagonist can be Facebook friends with one of the people who moved into the house after her parents moved out. (True story. I'm not sure how it happened other than that it is 2011 and we make words move on a screen with our fingers). About a year ago I went through her photos looking for a sliver of recognizable basement paneling or a set of trees in the backyard that served as a goal. A terrible, lopsided goal on uneven ground, but a goal nonetheless.

Today she posted a status that said they had sold the house after just two days on the market and are moving. Wha?! I don't know-know these people. I've met the husband half once. I know of them and we have some friends in common. The husband got my ex-boyfriend's job when my ex-boyfriend moved on to his own dream job in another state. So it feels really friendly. When I commented on the woman's status she sent me the listing, which included 25 photos for me to go memory lane-loco over.

First she warned me that the purple carpeting in my old bedroom was gone. And yes: It's embarrassing when strangers are privy to the decor decision you made in second grade. For some shame there is no statute of limitation.

Much like those people who move away and imagine a velvet rope crosses the highway in their wake and nothing moves or grows and you can't use flash photography, I was surprised to find full-sized bushes in the backyard and hardwood floors in the kitchen and dining room. Walls that were painted by someone with an eye for color rather than my mom's four favorite shades of cream. And of course, no more purple carpeting. Honestly, I couldn't figure out for sure which room was my old bedroom. Ouch on my part.

And so I present: Pictures of where I grew up!

This was a new development when we moved in in about 1983. The roof of the garage was supposed to peak like an A, but the contractor fucked it up. They build the garage so tall that my dad said "You could park a semi in there!" We were driving past the lot every day so he could monitor progress. He went home and penciled a re-design and we ended up with that sloped roof.

Most of my trick soccer moves were honed in that front yard. So were gymnastic dance routines to songs like "Mr. Roboto," "Wake Me Up Before You Go Go," and "Thriller."

My dad built me a mini basketball court in the backyard. It extended as far as a free throw line and the hoop was regulation height. I quit playing basketball in ninth grade. I hated basketball and I now understand that was because I'm not good at collaborating and basketball is just a giant group project in stupid shorts in front of people who love nachos.

My brother and I played one-on-one occasionally. He was a hockey player with no inches on me, but he was a damn-fine little athlete. Around 1993 he came home for Easter with my future sister-in-law. We started playing this game that eventually drew everyone to the window or deck. It was tense, it was sweaty and the fouls were ugly.

Reader(s), I beat the motherfucker. For the first time in my life. I beat him by two points. I did not play "We are the Champions" on the stereo in the living room like he did the other 550 times he won. I see no reason to ever play him again.

Anyway, my bedroom was the window on the lower right side of this picture. And yes I used to climb out of it in the middle of the night.

For many years we had an unfinished basement. Just a cement slab with an area cut out where the fireplace would eventually be built. My brother and I played floor hockey down here, using the future fireplace as a goal.

But mostly this is where I would roller skate in circles while listening to tapes or "American Top 40" on a clunky gray boom box. There are at least three dozen songs from the 1980s that are the sound of roller skating in my basement.

To name a few:
"Sussudio" by Phil Collins
"Modern Love" by David Bowie
"Africa" by Toto
"Do You Really Want to Hurt Me" by Culture Club
"I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues," by Elton John
Whatever song I heard at Subway today and couldn't place.

My brother and I shared this bathroom in the basement. (It looked nothing like this). It had an overhead heater. I would sit in there on a bar stool with the heat going. Playing with my hair and singing into a brush. Most of those songs live on in my karaoke repretoire. This is how I can sing "Borderline" with my eyes closed. When Depeche Mode was on its "Violator" tour I listened to "Black Celebration" and "Music for the Masses" in here in the dark. Sometimes blinking the lights for a strobe effect.

I used to sit at this counter and talk on the phone. One time Fannie called me and when I got off the phone my brother said "What did she want?" I said "I'm getting to the age where sometimes I just talk on the phone."


Kate Bee said...

I love this post. Basement rollerskating was a brilliant idea - the 9 year old me is jealous.

Christa said...

Ha! I'm not going to lie, it was a pretty good time.

feisty said...

I wish we could see the original decor, i bet it is fab in a 1980s home! I would've killed for the basketball court from 5th to 7th grade.

Futbol said...

i always assumed you were exactly like that girl from "13 going on 30" while growing up. this only confirms it.

Christa said...

I can't remember what that says about me, so I'll wait to get huffy about it.

Futbol said...

on the plus side, you eventually turn into jennifer garner.