My Childhood Home

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I mentioned earlier that I was taking a class on writing personal essays from Sheila Bender.  The feedback has been very good, both from Sheila and from my fellow classmates.  A great deal of effort has gone into describing what each of us is doing right and what can use improvement.

The first essay was to be descriptive.  We were asked what person or place do we know well and have strong feelings about?  For this, I wrote about my childhood home:

Picture of my childhood home taken from the bottom of the driveway

I lived nearly my entire childhood in the same house. It was a large brown sprawling single story house, a former farm with a large dog kennel in the back. My parents added more rooms, a garage, a playhouse, and a barn. They put pine paneling in the family room, replaced metal kitchen cabinets with real wood, and enclosed the patio.

Summers were hot and boring. There were no children close by that we could play with – just three boys who my Mom felt were way too wild, especially after they’d tied my sister to a tree to play cowboys and Indians.

Family room where people watched TV and the cat watched for mice on the beams (remember, this was farm country)

My sister and I spent our time in the above ground pool, our bodies getting brown as we floated on inner tubes or put on our swimming goggles to swim along the bottom looking for make-believe treasures. Each day we hiked down our gravel driveway to get the mail, then stopped halfway up under the big fir trees to see if our weekly Scholastic Magazine had come. If it did, we’d sit there in the itchy grass, the sun scorching our necks as we put our heads together to read the latest issue.

Evenings were spent chasing fireflies. There were so many of them in the country – it seemed hundreds lit the night sky. I could scoop my hand through the air and catch them with no effort. After collecting enough of them, I’d watch them through the glass jar, their light winking off and on, before finally letting them loose and starting all over again.

The school year wasn’t much better. I didn’t live in town like the other children and seldom played with them after school. Time after school was spent feeding the dogs or cleaning up after them, doing homework, or listening to my mother and grandmother arguing yet again. The arguments ran a familiar track – too much criticism, jealousy over who got more attention, what my uncle did or did not do wrong this time.

I'm with my grandmother in the backyard

My husband also lived most of his life in the same house, several miles from me. Although he lived in town, he too felt trapped. He didn’t have many friends in school to play with, his parents were busy with one new baby after another, and there was little of interest to a small boy who couldn’t wander too far from the house.

When we married, we didn’t want to stay in the same town and moved 15 miles away. We moved several times the first decade of our marriage, first a small fixer-upper, then a medium fixer-upper and finally a bigger fixer-upper. We saw no value in staying put – it didn’t serve our childhood well. We wanted more distance from our neighbors, more quiet, and bigger rooms to hold our passions.

Then we started moving around the country, eventually living in 8 states and 13 different homes.

Family room during Christmas

I will share in another post about moving so much and how my husband and I made a home wherever we were at, incorporating parts of earlier blog entries.