A Step Back (and Sideways) in Time


This photo is taken from in front of Mrs. P's store, the old house is the fourth from the left, behind the white van. It used to be yellow with a green awning.

I had a service call scheduled today in the town where I grew up, as much as you grow up anywhere where you are a military brat. It is only about a 45 minute drive from here, but I seldom get out there.

When I arrived I found that my client was not at home. I will give her the benefit of the doubt and assume that something came up. I left a message for her and told her I would hang out in the area for a while and to give me a call when she came home.

Then I went out exploring my old turf.

I started with what used to be the drug store. The sign still says it is and it is run be the same people, but they sell antiques now.

They had a soda soda fountain, the only one I have ever seen. Sitting perched all in a row on vynil covered stools we would drink cherry cokes and green rivers after school. Some things dont change, the soda fountain is still there.

When I came in Mrs. P. climbed down off her stool and greeted me the same way she has every time she has seen me since I reached adulthood. "Do you still like to read?" she asks and I always assure her that I do.

Years ago the books she sold were the main draw for me. A whole wall of paperback books including the best selection of science fiction that I have ever seen outside of an actual book store. I think I bought a least a book a week during the time I lived there. That may be why the books are gone now. The market dried up when I moved away.

There was a magazine I would buy every month, also science fiction. I bought the 25th anniversary issue back then. A few years ago at a chain book store, I bought the 50th, and felt very old. I have over the years saved all the copies and sometimes read the stories again. Maybe when I am gone, my kids can sell them for a bunch of money, but I doubt it. I would be happy if one of them would read them.

While I was there a woman came in the store and wanted to talk to her about a cleaning service. "We are thinking about shutting it down." Mrs. P. told her.

"Are you really giving it up?" I asked her after the woman left.

"Probably not," she replied, "I don't know what I would do all day if I wasn't coming here"

After a short time reminiscing with Mrs. P. I moved across the street and down the block to the old house.

Built in 1850, it is set into a hillside, with a store front on the first floor and living quarters on the second. Today there is a floral shop downstairs, and a nursing agency upstairs. I had not been inside for over 20 years but I prowled all over it today.

I stood in the back room downstairs, where I had a forge at on time and used to bang out metal on a piece of rail road steel, thinking I wanted to to do sculpture or make jewelry or something. Mostly I think I roasted hot dogs on it. I dont remember ever having the patience to get anything hot enough to really work with.

The old foundation back there is looking pretty rough and some of the rocks have fallen out and you can see sun light up towards the top of the wall.

Upstairs everything has changed and of course the current owner had to tell me about the yucky old bathroom they ripped out. My father put that bathroom in and it was lovely then, but I guess the next owners were not kind to the old place.

"My mother hated this house," I told the owner. My father had bought it without consulting her and she was angry with him the whole time we lived there. Those years were not good for my parents.

Everything seemed so small now and because some of the walls are moved it was sort of surreal being there, like I knew where I was but really did not.

"This was just an awful utility room." The woman told me, but it was my sisters bedroom. Where she would sit up in the window at night, secretly smoking cigarettes and hoping not to get caught. (she never did)

When we were younger she came once and got me in the middle of the night after we had watched a scary movie and she could not sleep. We curled up together in that little room and slept fine, because you are always safe when there are two of you, right?

I spent five years there, all living in the same house, a record for me at that time. I watched the little town go into decline and begin to prosper and then decline again. Things are one the up swing now, but everything is cyclical.

This evening I spent out where my folks are living now. They have lost the remote for the TV and I had to program the new one.

"I went through the old house today." I told them between bites at dinner. (My reward for setting the TV up.)

"I always hated that house." my mother said, and I knew somethings dont change.


1 Response to “A Step Back (and Sideways) in Time”

  1. 1 alwayschaosatourhouse May 25, 2006 at 11:15 am

    I followed a link from Queen Serene to you. Wow, you are an amazing writer. I too have a child with an extra chromosome-she is 22 months old. I hope you don’t mind if I come back and read again, your words so wonderfully written.

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