09 February 2011

August 1963

We were moving. A new town, a new state. Auntie B was driving us away. I was not quite 12 years old and I was crying. Through the tears I watched out the back window of her car, as my friends who were waving frantically slowly disappeared from sight. I was certain I would never see them again. I know I was terribly unhappy. Maybe it was just the tears blurring my vision.

This place we were leaving was a happy place, a place where there were other's to play with, mostly boys. I wasn't boy crazy, I was good enough to play ball with them. All the other little girls were younger than I was except for two. One was satisfied to sit on the sidelines and root for the team I was playing on. She rarely got chosen to play, she was a big girl for our age. The other was more interested in playing with her Barbie dolls, of which she had many, and play dress up. Me? I'd rather be outdoors, running, jumping, climbing trees, playing ball or marbles.

I was terrified I wouldn't make new friends, although Mum and Dad assured me I would after school started. In time I would make a few new friends.

Who remembers how long it took to go somewhere when you were young? I didn't have any conception of time or distance back then. The ride to Auntie B's house seemed to take forever, I guess it was because I didn't know where we were going. It seemed, too, I was destined to cry all the way to where ever it was we were going.

Thankfully, Auntie B's car was a station wagon. My brothers, of which there were three made a rukus. They fought with each other and were generally loud and obnoxious. Auntie had to pull over to the side of the road more than once to calm them. Finally, they exhausted themselves and fell asleep. I must have drifted off, too, because when I awoke, the boys were clamoring out of Auntie B's car and running in circles with our other cousins. I would learn, the boys would be spending the night with Auntie EM and our cousins at their house. I would spend the night with Aunite B and her little girl at her house.

It was quiet at Auntie B's house. The room I slept in was for the grandparents when they stayed with her. The room was dark and I couldn't tell if it was day or night. The bed was hard and uncomfortable, and I was cold. I shouldn't have been cold, it was late summer when the weather is usually hot and stickey. Auntie B fixed me something to eat, I truly don't remember what it was. Then I was sent to the room and asked to go to sleep.

I huddled in the dark for a long time listening to the noises of the old house. It was kind of creepy. I guess I finally fell asleep, because she was there at the side of the bed saying it's time to get up.

Auntie B had the radio on in the kitchen. After I used the bathroom and suffled into the kitchen, she told me about a big fire that had happened in the town we were moving to. She explained a huge gravel pit had burned down the night. How does a gravel pit burn down? I asked. I didn't think dirt burned.

Anyway, she explained our plans had changed and she would be driving me to Nana's house. I couldn't make any sense of what she was telling me. I was supposed to go to Nana's house. It's where I was supposed to stay until Mum and Dad got the furniture moved into the new house. I was looking forward to going to Nana's house. So why was Auntie B so nervous? I was confused.

When I got to Nana's I learned that Mum and Dad had been delayed on the road, and would arrive very late. I would be spending the night with her. Well now, that made me a whole lot happier. I could spend some time with her. We could talk, maybe she would even make me some of her famous 'yum-yum cake'. Somewhere I still have the recipe, but it never quite turned out for me, the way it did when Nana made it.

I loved Nana's house. It sat on a big corner lot with lots of trees and grass. It was a cute little house with a screened breezway, an attached one car garage and a big basement. The kitchen was little and I could sit on the window seat and watch while she bustled around. The living room was perfect, it had a huge fireplace. It only had one big bedroom, so I was to sleep that night on her couch. A set of fold down stairs would take me to the attic. They were rickety stairs so I had to be careful. There was nothing in the attic and it was dusty. I thought what a wonderful place to have a room. One window looked out over the yard toward the ocean, and the other was obscured by the garage roof and more trees.

I remember wanting to stay at Nana's house forever. Her house was comfortable and cozy. I don't remember going to the house where I would live until I graduated from high school. But I do have memories of that house saved for another time.