5.6.13

I Remember: 1974-1980

- My mother, when her hair was still long, standing at the stove, smoking a cigarette. 

- The basement stairs in the house on Edgewood Drive, that creaked and squeaked and that I thought were alive and trying to eat me every time I walked down them. 

- My father, in quintessentially 70s plaid pants, carrying me home from a party at the house across the street. 

- Every detail of my grandparents' house, full of treasures.

- Crying while playing with my cousin's Hot Wheels at my grandmother's funeral. 

- The soda fountain in my grandfather's drug store. 

- The smell of wet wood steaming up from the deck at the lake house after a long day of swimming and fishing. 

- May, my sister, on the telephone in the kitchen - always. It was a black phone with a huge, heavy handset and a cord that was long enough to reach almost all the way down the hall that I also used as a jumprope. 

- The chalkboard with my name in stained glass across the top hung in the kitchen at my level so that I could draw and write to my heart's content. 

- A huge stained glass window and an enormous, rough-hewn wood table where I ate my first escargot. 

- Lynn, my other sister, braiding my hair before bed. 

- The Jumping Couch in the Boschertt Street family room. It was a hulking beast of a thing that was ratty and worn, and I was allowed to jump on it.

- Crawling on the countertop on a butter quest and burning my hand on a still hot burner.

- Spunky, the world's meanest Westie, who's bark was the background noise to all of our outdoor games. 

- 'Helping' my sister, Lynn, pack for college. I had a sabotage campaign worked out where I would take things out of her bag so that she could never leave. And then crying and crying as we drove away from campus after moving her into her dorm. 

- Spending weekends alone at college with my sisters in the dorms, sleeping in their loft beds and eating cereal in the cafeteria and feeling like the coolest kid in the world. 

- Being lost in the woods behind my house with my friend and neighbor, Amy, who had sworn she knew how to get home. 

- The day the woman next door got her leg pinned under a heavy vehicle and watching as everyone on the street came out to help get her free and then take care of her kids when she and her husband went to the hospital and I took her white Dr. Scholl's exercise sandals back to her front door. 

- Picking my first pair of earrings the day I got my ears pierced:  red, sparkly cherries. 

- Whitefeet, the family dog, sleeping next to my bed every night and then accompanying me on my nightly walk to my parents' room when I couldn't sleep. 

- My kindergarten bus driver who played the same Queen tape (The Game) on her portable tape player every day on the way to school. 

- The absolute shock and utter grief I felt when Whitefeet died. I never considered that dogs died, too. I thought she would be my dog forever. 

- Visiting my dad in the corporate apartment in Houston where he was living while my mom and I stayed in St. Louis to sell the house there. I had never been in an apartment complex before and it seemed like the best place on earth. There was a pool and cable and a soda machine and one night I snuck out to the living room and watched Alien on cable and scared myself to death. 

- Swimming lessons with the Kerr kids at the Y. Our swim teacher was a college girl named Ruth who wore glasses in the pool and had a blue and white striped swimsuit that reminded me of my grandparents' outdoor furniture. 

- Catching jars of lightening bugs and then setting them all free before going in to bed so they could go home to their families, too. 

- Playing Mother, May I? until my bladder almost burst because I didn't want to go in and pee because I was having so much fun. 

- Actually laughing until I wet my pants at The Carol Burnette Show.

- Eating honeysuckle on summer nights until I was sticky and stuffed.

- Trying to figure out how my grandmother's stand-by pacemaker could possibly work. I would press it against my chest and wait for it to do something. 

- Listening to The Rescuers picture record in the corner of the living room with headphones on and choreographing elaborate musical numbers. 

- My long-sleeved t-shirt with Woodstock on it. Woodstock of Peanuts fame, not the music event. I remember not liking the shirt much, but it was a gift from my grandparents and we were visiting them and I had it on to feed the squirrel who would eat out of my hand. The squirrel fascinated and frightened me. 

- My red rain boots. I wore them all the time - mostly in lieu of all other clothing - and especially to play with the hose. 

- The green shag carpet and the window unit air conditioner in my sister's bedroom. I didn't like to walk on the carpet because it reminded me of Oscar the Grouch and I didn't want to make it mad. 

- Staying up past my bed time watching TV in the living room with a pillow and a blanket while the grown-ups played bridge.

- The Chef at his extensive and expansive grill, red and white checked chef's had on his head, tongs in his hand, and a Boys Club t-shirt on, pouring beer on the slabs of ribs I loved almost as much as the man cooking them.

- The feeling that it would never be time for Sesame Street. 

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