Most of us cannot get back to our childhood home. If it still exists and mom and dad, if they still exist, still live there the space has surely changed. And if they didn’t change it, then time will have left its mark so that, depending on the number of years, it could be just downright creepy by now.
In my mind’s eye I can go back, smell the triple-layer brownies Mom is pulling out of the oven, see her face light up as I come in, anxious to share my school day with her. Dad is in his crisp suit at the bank and after my brownie snack I will make an iceberg lettuce salad to go with dinner – meat, potato, veg – that will be served promptly at 5 p.m., when he gets home. And I must get on that snack because my older brother and my younger sister are absolute thieves when it comes to treats.
I see the green and gold chesterfield – we didn’t have a sofa, couch or davenport – in the living room, with the Pledge-shined wooden arms. There are sheers in the bay window and pale green velvet pleated curtains in front of them that Mom pulls to signal the end of day. The wooden hi-fi sits under the mirror and there is a plush gold chair in the corner that was wide enough for me to curl up in, like a love seat, when I was small. There was no TV in that room. To watch TV you went down a small flight of stairs to a tiny den and had a choice of three channels on a black and white. The living room stayed like that for eons, then poof, it was gone.
Then I was creating my own living rooms and there were so very many. The wedding gift sectional couch and the stereo unit – 2×10 boards held up by cement blocks with plastic milk crates for albums. In the new house, the beige couch and chair were a too-big-too-puffy mistake and the towering oak stereo cabinet with the TV on top, well, it gave you a serious kink in the neck. Then there was a black and pink and blue flowered couch, a hand-me-down from relatives. Deb, my interior-designer friend, never saw it but she would have shook her head and whispered, “We don’t like that color.” Then there was the slick low-backed black leather sectional that Hugh and I found at the Bay in Masonville, back when they sold furniture. Hugh pulled the truck and trailer up to the front doors and insisted on purchasing the floor model – we couldn’t possibly wait until the next week for it to be ordered in. We shoved a somewhat large TV in the corner opposite to the corner fireplace and things kind of worked, but not really . . . focal points were fighting.
After Hugh died the TV sets got slimmer and I was able to mount one to the left of the fireplace, creating one place to look. Deb went with me to purchase an oxblood (her description) leather sofa and loveseat and the space and its contents have finally sort of settled in.
Wow. It took me so long to figure out after the constant example my mother and father set. Why? Was it a money issue? Quality? Rapidly changing technology? Rapidly changing styles? Poor decision-making? Am I part of a fickle generation gifted with abundance? And I haven’t even gotten into the bedrooms – what about that whole waterbed phase? And wall-coverings? Paper. No paper. Borders. Sponging! Do you remember sponging?
But what about that old dinner – meat, potato, veg – at 5 p.m.?! That’s certainly not happening anymore.
If you go back, to the scene where Mom is pulling baking from the oven, what if the brownies weren’t ready yet? I might find her in a different position: reclined on the chesterfield reading, a leg casually plopped up and over the back. After dinner? Dad would be in his chair reading the paper.
And that is how I return home, by returning to words printed on paper. It’s a signal to slow down. B puts an album on the turntable – yes, we’re back to albums again, but stored in an Ikea cabinet – after my 8 p.m. workout and a late dinner of rice, arugula and scallions.
Home sweet home.
We had a Davenport (no couch, sofa or chesterfield)… remember the decor in our house, but it changed over the years (orange walls?), while the furniture remained the same…
Our meals were pretty standard too, until Mom decided to go “Healthy” back in the 70’s – I think she would have been a hippy if not for raising 2 boys.
thanks for the trip back home!
This blog smells delicious. Now, I crave brownies.