The House I Grew Up In — Part 1
It was a simple, carefree, loving childhood. We never had a ton of money—not enough to go on fancy vacations or anything like that (except for that one year we scrounged up the money to hit up a few amusement parks in southern California)— but we always had enough for food, rent, plenty of toys, and decent clothes.
I grew up on Magellan Drive. It was a basic 3 bedroom 1 bathroom house, white with green trim, in the middle of the street, surrounded by other streets, which were surrounded by more and more streets, and eventually bordered by the freeway and then, just on the other side of the freeway, the neighboring city. One city bled into the next around there. No empty space to speak of.
But it was home. I always felt safe and valued and free to be myself there.
My dad, a carpenter by trade, built us a fort on stilts in the backyard. I used to go up there and read or do homework or play house or play “school” by myself or with my neighbor Michelle who lived across the street. For a few years we had chickens whom we let roam free around the backyard. We’d find their eggs in the bushes, in the middle of the lawn, under the fort— wherever. My oldest brother’s chicken was white and came with the name “Lady Cluck.” My other brother named his red chicken “Missy” after the girl he had a crush on. Mine was black and white speckled and I called her “Maria.” I remember having a turtle at one point as well, but I can’t remember its name or what ever happened to it. We also had Samson the hamster for a few years. And once we had a little black dog named Bo, but he always managed to escape out of our backyard to chase cars, so we eventually gave him to another family with a better fence and more attentive owners. And of course there was my cat Puffer who I earned after I was finally able to sleep the whole night through without wetting the bed. She was a calico and would wander the neighborhood all day— but she’d always come back home at night when I would whistle for her. Except for that one time when she got stuck up in our neighbor’s backyard palm tree for two days. On those nights she just mewed mournfully in response to my whistle. But, after a second night stuck up there with the pigeon eggs she had climbed for, she eventually figured out a way down and lived a good long life. I don’t recall her climbing that palm tree again.
There was a big tree in the back left corner of our backyard which was great for climbing. One time my older cousin Adam mooned me back there— scarred me for life regarding men with hairy butts. When I was alone, I enjoyed making up dance routines in the backyard while I blasted New Kids on the Block or Lionel Richie from my cassette player. One time one of my brother’s friends caught me dancing back there and I was mortified. Sometimes my brothers and I would set up obstacle courses and have competitions with one another. I used to love jumping rope on our covered patio out back. I remember having my 5th birthday on that patio— my mom’s friend had made me a pink and purple birthday cake that looked like a carousel.
We had some cherry blossom trees out front which looked beautiful when they were in bloom— so pink and puffy. But they sure made a mess when they would drop all their cherry-goo on the ground. Ick. That was one thing that would force me, normally a barefoot girl, to put on some shoes.
For a few years, my Aunt Ruth and Uncle David and cousins Josh and Anna lived right next door to us. Us kids would go knock on each other’s doors at the crack of dawn (or before!) because we wanted to play with each other.
There were lots of kids on our street for us to play with. The kids came in all shapes and sizes and colors. We would run around in the sprinkler on warm days, or play hide-and-seek and tag, and sometimes some of the kids would set up a quarter pipe and try out their skateboard tricks. Us girls would practice handstands and backbends on the front lawn. I remember a group of us doorbell ditching our kidless neighbors a few times. One time, the last time I ever participated in doorbell ditching, one of our neighbors got super mad and came and chewed out my parents. I was terrified and hid behind the couch while the man spoke sternly to my dad at the front door.
There was an old man a few houses down who I called “The Cookie Man” because he would always give us cookies whenever we saw him or knocked on his door to say hi. He had beautiful brown skin and curly white hair. There were calalillies in front of his house. He had a warm smile and a twinkle in his eyes.
Us kids were allowed to roam free up and down our block all day if we wanted to. We pretty much just came home to eat and then we shot back outside to play some more. It was a fun, active, friend-filled existence.
That house on Magellan Drive? In all the best ways— it was home.
[This is Day 24 of the Write 31 Days Challenge. This year my focus is on the role of STORY in our lives. Click here to get to the landing page with links to each post for this series.]
P.S. In gratitude to all of you faithful readers who have been reading along during this challenge, DaySpring is offering one lucky reader a $100 Shopping Spree to Dayspring.com! Click here to enter yourself.
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What about you?
What kind of house did you grow up in, and what was the old neighborhood like? What are some fond memories you have there?
Please share your comments or your own story in the comment section below.