Monday, June 6, 2011

Call Me

My parents flipped houses when I was growing up; I lived in 4 places before starting school. Obviously I don't remember much from those homes since I was so young, though I suppose it's surprising how much I DO remember. For example, the backyard at the house on Witham was HUGE. At least, to me. Full of trees that seemed to touch the sky, whose foliage created a cool canopy from the oppressive humidity of summer in Kansas City. There was a path worn in the grass that wove through those monoliths, and I would push my little sister along it in the wheelbarrow, eliciting excited squeals from her and encouraging my already active imagination to envision a jungle one day, a deserted island the next.

Autumn came, and we went mushroom picking with my dad and his friend and ate the harvest for supper. After stalling as long as possible, we kids were sent to bed while the adults continued to chat. That night, I flipped over the railing of my top bunk, rolled across the hardwood floor and smacked my face into the avocado-green dresser, breaking my nose. I told my parents my sister was having a bad dream, so I'd reached down to hold her hand and lost my balance. It would be years before I came clean; I had heard my parents talking about me, and I was actually leaning as far as I could toward the door so I could better hear what they were saying!

The next summer, we were living in a house on Marty. The little girl next door showed me how to do a cartwheel. I always thought "cartwheel" was a weird word; I pictured it in its literal sense. I also think that was the house we lived in where a man down the street smoked a pipe. I can envision his recliner and floor-stand ashtray with a pipe rack, the sweet smell of tobacco permeating the room. That summer I began to question why I had to go to bed when it wasn't dark out yet. I remember the sticky heat that didn't dissipate even after the sun did eventually go down - the last house we lived in that didn't have central air conditioning. Sleeping with the windows open in the hope that a small breeze might break through the thick blanket of humidity.

When I was 5, and it was time for me to start kindergarten, my parents moved us to the top school district in our area. It was in that house that I learned to roller skate in the kitchen, sliced open my finger with a box cutter while my parents wallpapered my bedroom, and got my first pet - an adorable runt mutt I named Scruffy. That was also where my sister and I bonded over being mad at our parents by talking to each other through our closet walls, having the chicken pox over Christmas and creating our own language. And where I first remember learning our phone number.

My family moved five more times before I graduated from high school - all in the same school district - once just three houses down the street from where we were currently living. Then I went away to college and lived in the dorm, then the sorority house where I switched rooms each semester. Once I was out of school, I lived with a girlfriend in an apartment, and then a duplex with two guy friends before DH and I got married and lived in his house. Then we moved to our home we live in now. At each of these places, I had a new phone number I had to learn.

The numbers blend together after awhile. Several of the prefixes were the same. But the one from my childhood I still know by heart? The first one I learned when I was 5.

This post was inspired by the prompt, "We want to know what, from your childhood, do you still know by heart?" from The Red Dress Club.
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