Unforgettable Places – “Discovering the Writer Within”

Sometimes I wonder if I go on writing prompt splurges like people go on crash diets.

But that’s not what today’s writing prompt is about.  Today’s writing prompt is about unforgettable places.

Unforgettable places equals my house growing up.  When I remember it today I feel like it might be haunted.  Though I never felt that way while living there.  I had at least three pets die at that house.  But mostly I feel like it’s haunted by the bad guys I was always afraid of encountering.  Our front and back doors didn’t lock, exactly.  I think they bolted, but maybe they didn’t.  The doorknobs definitely did not lock.  It was easy as anything to push them open.  We’re lucky nobody unsavory ever figured that out. But it made me very afraid anyway, especially as I transitioned into a woman’s body.  I worried about seeing a man’s eyes looking in the window in the hall as I walked out of my shower up to my room, where I kept my clothes.  The window didn’t have a curtain on it.  But mostly I worried about that front door.  If anybody ever knew… I was always trying to figure out at night before I went to sleep how best to react if an unwanted visitor ever appeared in my bedroom doorway.

Not that we had anything to steal (except our innocence, and some craft supplies).  Mom always had craft supplies.  We turned our carport into Mom’s craft room.  Somehow she kept it all in there, though it sometimes felt like the walls might burst.

We also had a closet upstairs that I always thought must be haunted, it was so creepy.  It was at the end of our hallway and we just used it for storing Mom’s extra boxes of clothes she never wore.

Our rooms were full to the brim, too.  Mine with Lisa Frank and my sister’s with dolls and clothes.  I wonder why I kept journals? Maybe as windows outside the mess?

Our rooms led out onto the carport roof.  Sometimes my sister and I would go out there, even though we weren’t really supposed to.  I always worried that it’d break, though, or that I’d slide helplessly downward and fall off, so I never spent too long there.

Our back yard was a mess.  It held a chicken coop, a trampoline, a vegetable garden, and a lot of dead grass and puncture weeds.  It had a great view though–we could see the sun set over the open horse field behind us and all the stars at night.  But there was a lot of yellow brown grass.  I preferred the front yard, which we kept watered and green.  Mom even kept some tulips in a flower bed in the front.

The paint on the posts was chipping, which is probably why I don’t like shabby chicThe cement front porch had random spots and stains from paint or who knows what.  I must’ve spent a lot of time musing out there to remember it so well.  The large front window always had cobwebs in the corners, like our whole house. I hated the job of cleaning them; I was terrified of spiders and webs, even long-emptied ones.

They made us wash windows when we weren’t getting along.

I never ventured into my sister’s room and she never ventured into mine.  Until we were older and I recognized that she had better fashion taste than I did, and I would go into her room and wish I had her pretty things or her fashion taste.  I don’t even remember what I usually spent my allowance on.  I know it was clothes, but not pretty expensive ones.  I usually shopped with my mom at Wal-Mart.

Our carpet was a dirty gray-blue, but prettier than what we have now.  It was always covered in cat and dog hair and only got vacuumed if someone was coming over.  I hated that job, too, because I was scared of the noisiness of the vacuum.  I wonder if I’m not as allergic to cats and dogs because I grew up around them.

Mom’s closet was a good secret hiding place, although don’t tell her I ever did that.  It was full of more clothes she hardly wore, and it was deep and the back was dark, and I could go back there and feel cozy, invisible, protected.  It was always safer to be invisible, especially when they were fighting.

My room was pink; her room was yellow.  I liked the way her room was lighter/brighter than mine.  I will probably always like lighter/brighter walls because of that.

Downstairs Mom began painting the pink walls and cupboards white (or maybe it was the white cupboards pink?), but she never finished. she also never finished the blue checkerboard design on the yellow bathroom walls.  It always bugged me that it wasn’t finished, but I was afraid to finish it for her. What if I messed up?  What if she got mad at me for finishing her unfinished projects? I was always more J than my mother.

The downstairs was our house haven from weather, both winter and summer.  The upstairs was cut off from all climate control, via Mom’s will to live as cheaply as possible.  We slept under lots of blankets, or none at all, with fans.  The worst for me was winter.  I complained a lot to Mom if we could see our breath upstairs. (And sometimes I tried very, very hard to see my breath in order to complain to her, but I couldn’t always justify it.)

Funny how a family can resent the passive-aggressive communication they live and breathe in.  And never change.

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Filed under Nonfiction, Reflective Writing

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