Here’s what we‘ve made for you. . .
Yes, it’s almost Thanksgiving. Then before you know it, Christmas will be behind us and we’ll be in 2010. Maybe then I’ll stop writing 2008 on checks and at least progress to 2009. This time of year always makes me reflect on where I’m headed and where I’m from. Where I’m headed can be the topic of future newsletters as it unfolds, but I’d like to share with you where I’m from. It’s a long story, as you can imagine, so I’ll whittle this tale down to one house. This is the house that I lived in for most of my life in Maitland, Florida.
It’s not just a house, it’s a work of art. There’s not a rectangular room in the place. It was built in the 60’s by a modern architect named Frank Sheehy, who lived in it himself for a time. They threw a house warming party when it was finished and sealed up a wine bottle in the wall, leaving the bottom end of it sticking out into the dining room, and the open lip of it in the garage. They put the guest list of everyone there that night inside the bottle. Years later, my brother and I would fish it out with a pair of chopsticks and read it before putting it back in its rightful place.
There was a fish pond that started outside and continued on into the house. Goldfish could swim in and out through an underwater gap in the glass. A snake took advantage of this entrance once, sending my mom running for an ax. Another time I watched a raccoon reach in and grab our decorative water fountain as I sat up wide awake, too excited to sleep one Christmas Eve. There was ONE spot that we put the Christmas tree in every year, next to the fish pond. We tried it in a different spot one year and Christmas was ruined.
That stone wall by the fish pond is what I stared at every night out of my bedroom door. There were faces and whole nonsensical scenes that I imagined in the rock formations. I can still remember the old man diving down onto the goat head.
When I was in Junior High, I migrated to a bigger bedroom in the back of the house. It had a metal ceiling fan that was so low you could lose a finger to it if you weren’t careful. When I had friends over, we’d turn a strobe light on and make the fan seemingly come to a standstill before throwing all of the contents of the sock drawer into it.
Most of the walls of the house had plate glass windows from floor to ceiling. Everywhere you looked in the day time, you saw oak trees covered in Spanish moss, which over the years gave way to kudzu vines with heart shaped leaves. At night, those same windows would be pitch black and covered with bugs trying to get in to the light, only to get picked off by tree frogs.
I lost my first tooth in that house, came home from my first and last day of school to that house, brought my kids home from the hospital to that house, and finally backed up a moving truck to it before leaving for the Oregon Coast.
The new owners have since bulldozed the oaks and kudzu, put in sod as far as the eye can see, painted everything white, and generally poured mountains of cash into it. It’s a different house now, but I bet it still remembers me.