Milk Pitcher Memories

This is not the house I grew up in. There is nothing striking a familiar chord as I pull the lightweight, teddy bear comforter up to my chin. Not the bed, not the sounds. Nothing really. The furnace fires up and I am in the belly of this beast. It feels like a jet engine and I am balanced on a wing. There is noise everywhere here. Unfamiliar noise. 

I was here for a few nights as Mom recovered from her pre- procedure test. She has a TAVR in her future and we learned last week that Dad is in line for one, too. Lots of big hearts in line for some big upgrades. Feel free to send mojo for all that lies ahead for them. She’s doing great this weekend.

It’s spacious here and spread out. A cathedral ceiling makes the livingroom feel cavernous. There are no stairs, but there are steps. One down to the living room, one down to the family room and two others, each of those, up to the dining room/ kitchen areas. Kent to Arizona to Puyallup to Auburn. This is their third home after the one I grew up in. 

I remember that home in Kent. A two-story white Colonial in a cul-de-sac. My parents had it built in a new development with dozens of young families like theirs. A typical suburban neighborhood, lots of Boeing peoole. Dad did the landscaping himself, investing hours in the perfect lawn. Cut and edged, fertilized and watered, flower beds carved out in the spacious backyard. It was full of blue juniper evergreen shrubs, azaleas, laurel hedges and beautiful green lawn.

There was an intercom system and four bedrooms, each kid with their own room. I remember begging to paint mine bright blue and then painted a giant rainbow in the closet. A rainbow. In the closet. The irony does not escape me. I grew up, and into my own, in that place. 

We had a pack of kids in the neighborhood. We played kickball most nights in that cul de sac. Our front yard was behind the homemade cut-out of home plate. We learned confidence in that circle. We made plans, we had “thing sales” at the top of a neighbors driveway. We used to catch bees in the Scotch broom using jars and lids. The oldest neighbor transferred them to a habitrail enclosure so we could watch them. We let them go before dinner. 

At play, we stayed within a mile of the neighbothood and only had to be home by dinner or dark. There were a few bike crashes down Kentwood hill, the occasional fight at “the ditch” across the street and only one broken arm that I remember. Our irreverant youthful philosphy ran wild as we sat on someone’s swingset and dreamed aloud into the night. 

Later, there were cigarettes out the bathroom window and an impressive self-taught skill of “breaking in”  if I missed curfew (even when they locked, chained and put a chair under the front door1.) I almost always missed curfew. Those were the tough-love years. 

No, none of those memories are here in this house in Auburn.  But that didn’t stop us these past couple days from reminiscing during our meals at the dining room table. Mom and Dad even remembered their first apartments and their first house in Matthews Beach. Thanks for the prompt, Gretchen. I got to tell the caterpillar story. (My only memory of that first home.)

At that house in Kent we ate dinner together most every night. All of us. I still have the small glass pitcher that held milk on the table. It meant something back then. Do you have a favorite house memory? Maybe it’s a smell or a sound that brings it all back. Time flies, doesn’t it?

9 Comments on “Milk Pitcher Memories

  1. These are great memories and your skill with words paints the atmosphere for me. A favourite house memory of my own? Oh, I guess there’s a collection, around “the big house.” Six of us lived in a one-room cabin while we built the big house. So- lots of memories of the first place, plus lots of memories of the construction (what an awesome playhouse!), and the transition, since it took years for the big house to be finished. I was allowed to paint my own room too, and that is where I learned that paint on the little card at the hardware store looks different when it’s on a wall. I chose a bright green – my favourite colour. And that is what we got, and that is what I painted on the walls, and what stayed on the walls, since we were too poor to buy new paint to repair the catastrophe. As a teenager I got ready for school looking into a mirror like Elphaba. A rainbow in the closet? That made me laugh!

  2. Wonderful memories. It’s fun to put random memories together and find that, even though elusive and brief, they make a fine story when smashed together. I’m glad to still have a childhood home, but I still miss the first one. It’s where my favorite memories are, unsullied by growing up. It’s hard to know how I would feel if this one had left the family. “Ya don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone.”

    • Yes! A story becomes real and substantial with these pieces stitched together. I love that you get to make your family home your own. The old and the new woven together to make a new story.

    • I feel really lucky to have grown up in that neighborhood with those kids. Days when we could take off exploring on our bikes for hours. The cul-de-sac held the Cambridge World Series for kickball, wiffle ball and dodgeball. The whole neighborhood gathered there for fireworks, with the Dads taking over for the night. A simple, glorious time.

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