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Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Mo-om! I'm Ho-ome! What's for Dinner?

Working on my gingerbread house these past couple days's made me a little bit homesick - nostalgic for those December afternoons in my parents' kitchen in South Carolina with my sister and Mom, 10 pounds of gingerbread dough, a gallon of royal icing and a dimestore bag of every kind of candy known to man.

So I'm goin' back home, just for a minute. Y'all wanna come?

Originally posted July 20, 2007.

My Childhood Home

I was ten going on eleven when my parents had suffered enough in the big city of Atlanta and decided to cash in their chips and move "back home" to the Real South, aka rural South Carolina. Never having lived anywhere else I could remember in my born days except suburban Atlanta (which is about as Southern as New Hampshire, truth be told), and, as stubborn and impervious-to-anyone-else's-good-ideas as any almost eleven-year-old was then, is now, and forever will be, I faced my parents' decision with the commensurate amount (a great big hairy huge ton) of pre-pubescent (Hi Mr. Internet Weirdo!) angst and trepidation. Oh, and fury. Let us not forget the fury.

The first days in our new town served to validate my fears and parent-centered resentment, as rural SC is a far cry from the big city in ever-so-many ways, not the least of which was that I couldn't understand much of what was said by th'natives. They wus all, "Who y'lak? Tahgers er Gamecocks?" (Being a dyed-in-the-wool Tahger fan from the git-go, Ah don't thank Ah'd e'em heard of a Gamecock yet. The Tiger and the Gamecock are the mascots of the two major football teams, er, colleges, in the state, by the way.) An' "Ya'll been ta Quaincy's fer supper yet? Hooooooooooo doggies 'ems good eatin'!" So, in addition to having left my BFFs Mary and Lynne, who shared my love for Lick 'Em Ades, Sean Cassidy and wearing tennis socks with the lil fluffy balls that matched our tops, I was also livin' in a FER'N Country where I din't speak tha language. I was skeert.

However. There WAS my new house. And despite the freakish glowing orange carpet in the family room and the broken air conditioning in July, in South Carolina, (which reminds me of the fact that, not satisfied with dragging me from the cultured and refined city out to cow-patty-n'-ho-cake-ville, my mother had immediately set about the task of bringing me down from my citified high horse by dragging me to our new town's library each afternoon, whereupon she climbed up the wooden stairs to the loft, plopped and stretched herself bottom-out over the huge library clock - tick tock tick tock - on the cushioned bench along the railing that overlooked the entire first floor, and proceeded to TAKE A NICE LONG SNOOZE. Oh Heavens Above... the Humiliation!) the new house had a feature or two that took some of the sting out of becoming a hick. For example there were

My Bathroom - I shared it with my sister but it was ATTACHED to MY BEDROOM. And... it had TWO, people... TWO SINKS. And those sinks... were TURQUOISE. As was the tub. In there was also this COOL metal shelf that revolved and that you could actually turn so that it was COMPLETELY hidden inside the WALL. Oh the treasures I could hide in that thing!! This is the bathroom, coincidentally, that my NEW BFF Marie and I would hide away in, fill the sinks with water with a squirt of nail polish remover on top and LIGHT THE WHOLE THING ON FIRE. And the turquoise bathtub, which is still there, and still turquoise (she said proudly) is the same one in which my friend Angie and I played dentist with the olive green Waterpik, using a stainless steel mixing bowl on a footstool as the spit sink. Oh that bathroom saw some of my most creative moments.

My Bedroom - Which housed my wildly-coveted-and-anticipated CANOPY BED, a set of faux satin sheets so slippery I had to hold onto the headboard when I rolled over so I didn't fall out, and a closet big enough to hold all of my clothes, shoes, junk AND a secret hidden make-up vanity where I spent countless hours making myself beautiful in case Sean Cassidy or Michael Jackson should stumble upon me and fall in love.

My Dad's Desk - Which was built RIGHT INTO THE WALL, creating a little cubby where the chair went, under which was conveniently placed a heat/AC vent that was SHARED with the living room, affording me the ability to sit very discreetly and listen in on my sister's private moments with the gentlemen callers she entertained on the blue velvet sofa on the other side of the wall but only inches from me. Oh Yes I Did!

The Huge Rocks in the Side-Yard - Which sadly eventually became the headstones of several beloved pets over the years, but started out as a perfect place for pre-teen brooding, daydreaming, sulking and secret-telling.

I brooded and sulked at my parents' complete lack of concern for my misery over being transplanted for a couple of months, until I looked up and realized that I was more at home in that house and in that town than I'd ever been in Atlanta. I'd made the best friends I'd ever had, and most of them are STILL my best friends, over 25 years later. I slept better in my new room, where the thick canopy of elderly oaks that nearly touched the roof above me blocked out every splinter of light in the night sky, creating the perfect foil for a thousand fireflies and the flashlights of neighborhood kids playing kick-the-can. I walked a mere block to my new school - one with teachers who made me feel welcome and important, and friends who didn't know much about Sean Cassidy but loved the Tahgers and even wore brilliant orange overhauls on Friday to attest to it! I celebrated my birthday late that summer with my new crew of girls - we danced on the wacky orange carpet to the music of Star Wars, using bananas for light sabers and giggling like we'd known one another forever. I realized now that I had a home filled with new memories, and the promise of a million more.

And now, when I go back to visit my parents in that same house, and I tuck Bean into my cozy old bed (the canopy's gone, but it's the same bed) after a hot bath in the turquoise tub, I am thankful for the move they made (and the moves they HAVEN'T made since then), and for the little town and the friends I made that continue to remind me who I really am, where I REALLY came from. In the quiet stillness of a hot summer afternoon, I can easily remember the feeling I had of safety, peace and belonging, lying on my canopy bed in my shady, cool bedroom, reading and thinking and planning. I can still smell Mom's steak and gravy cooking in the kitchen and hear the whistle of the afternoon train as it rolls through the heart of town. Those memories define me. My childhood. Home.

18 comments:

  1. That is a fantastic memory one you will forever hold dear.

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  2. What a great story, and so well-written. It's nice that you are still able to go back to that home and relive the memories.

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  3. Did I read this correctly? Have you been working on your gingerbread house for...DAYS...

    I can't wait to see it!

    And yes, there's no place like home...

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  4. It's fun to remember "those old days"! There is something about the holidays that makes you reminince. I enjoyed memory lane!
    PS - I'm still wondering about the buttons...

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  5. Oh Dear.

    I grew up in the "big bad city" and now life in the SOUTH! Considering I grew up in Miami, moving to the Panhandle of Florida, I actually moved NORTH, to get to the SOUTH!

    But, I had to raise two girls, and when it comes down to it, I liked the Southern Values. That was the set of values I wanted to raise my daughters with.

    I never knew what the "South" was, until I spent a year of my college years in Alabama. I caught a glimpse then, and choose to raise my children with those values now.

    I love your blog Fried, and thank you so much for visiting mine. Your comment about my friend, actually made me cry, so how much of a DORK am I?

    Much love through Christmas for you and your family!

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  6. BTW Fried.........Thanks for the idea for my blog post tonight. You got the Hat Tip.

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  7. While there is a constant thread of humor woven throughout this post, it is probably one of the most beautiful things I've read this week. Thanks for taking us on a little trip down your memory lane.

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  8. We had big rocks in my yard growing up too. I used to sit on them and think, and I still do when I go back to visit.

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  9. This is great!
    I am doing a scrapbook with my kids for their Grandma for Cmas - all the rooms of her house and what they LOVE about what goes on in that room -

    check out my blog - some Mommy bloggers are pitchin' in to help spread the word and give a Christmas Miracle this year!!

    Blessings!

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  10. Picture of the gingerbread house please.
    Great story. I have been in a very nostalgic mood lately too. Must be the season.

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  11. Beautifully, beautifully written.
    And we built our gingerbread house this weekend, which was nicely pre-baked by the gingerbread house kit people.

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  12. I was just thinking along the same lines of Michelle's Hat Tip--one of the things I love about blogging is how one good post inspires another. You reminded me about the Sean Cassidy fantasy I harbored from 'bout age 9 to 12 in which he walks out of the step-up closet in my childhood home and serenades me with Beauty School Dropout--much dreamier than Frankie Avalon :)

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  13. I have never made a gingerbread house, though I've always want to. I can't wait to see yours!

    Maybe next year I'll give it a shot. You'll still be around and help me if I have questions, right?

    I'm counting on it.

    *An Iowa Mom*
    www.aniowamom.com

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  14. Oh, I so remember those socks with the little ball on 'em. What a great post! I felt as if I were there, looking at every little detail as you described it so perfectly. I must admit, I'm a little jealous. My parents have moved from my childhood home. But it would be nice to go back and take a trip down memory lane.

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  15. such a lovely post. I love reflective posts.

    We built a gingerbread house two years ago. I picked one up in my hands at the store the other day. Pictured myself covered in that frosting and yelling at the kids for eating all of the candy as we made it. And promptly set it back down.

    Blessings,
    K

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  16. Being a Southern gal who lives about 45 minutes just south of Atlanta, I totally understand all of that! Even the redneck-hick lines that others probably had to read several times to understand what you were sayin'. I got it. It's my native speak.

    So when you lived in Georgia, were you a Dawg or a Jacket? Since you were in the city where people are from "outside", you may not have had to choose. Oh those city folks... Never could understand why folks would want to live in all that smog and concrete. Nothin' like wide open spaces.

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  17. Wow! That was one beautiful post. What a great testiment to your folks. As a parent, we always stress when we wrench our kids away from a familiar place - reading your post brings some comfort :)

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  18. I love this post now just as much as I did the first time that I read it. Sigh. :) And yeah... days? I hope you post some photos!

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Thoughts?