Pearl Street

I’ve been in Mother’s kitchen making a grilled cheese sandwich for myself. I am going back home today. I came to Indiana to see Kendall and Mother and ended up in the hospital and recuperating here. I’ve been here two weeks and I am homesick but I also can’t quit crying because I hate leaving both of them.  I hate leaving this house.

The house was my grandparent’s house. I have been here all my life. It is the single thing that has been in my whole life. It is a beautiful home in a horrid neighborhood. The area started out with a promise, I’m sure. It was a nice place to live when my grandparents decided to leave the farm and move into town. That was 53 years ago. Now it’s not quite as savory. Yesterday Mom and I  were just getting home, unloading the car and balancing our Dairy Queen, when chaos erupted across the street. If you know my Mother, you know she puts up with very little. Especially vulgarity. (Ironic that God chose me for her, huh). Anyway, as we were making our way up on the porch, her neighbors spilled out of their shabby little house onto the street. There were, perhaps, 15 kids ranging in age from 20-25. One girl in short shorts, or underwear, a g-string?, standing in the middle of a collection of young men that every mother would have been proud of. They were yelling and hollering, passing a joint, laughing and grabbing at the young lady’s barely covered behind. One of the young men jumped into what can only be loosely referred to as a car and started to choke off down the road. As he did, our sweet little bimbo yelled to be heard over the fire-cracking backfire, “Hey Leroy!! Leroy! That video is gon be on Youtube soon man! That video of that dude eatin my pussy!”

Holy crap. My Mother stopped dead in her tracks and asked what the girl had said, and in a moment of pure stupidity…I answered her. She stopped just inches from the front door, turned around, planted her hands on her hips and glared across the street. You could see the dare line in her forehead. She just stood there quietly. I stood there equally as quiet but very clenched. I made some sort of joke, I don’t even remember what and she said in a deadly calm voice, ‘If you think I care one bit to tell her what trash she is being..’ There we stood, almost 70, almost 50. She was pulled up to her full height of 5’2 and I’m sporting my pretty pink cane. ‘Mom, please. I can’t drag a dead cat right now, let alone whip a girl and 14 guys. Call the police but lets go in the house.’ In a momentous effort of let it go, Mother open the door and we came in the house.

This wasn’t how this neighborhood used to be. I don’t really guess any neighborhoods were though, were they? I spent every waking minute I could in this house when I was young. I loved staying all night with my grandparents. Grandma would make her homemade chocolate syrup and we would have sundaes. I got to wear her little cotton nightgown and robe sets to bed. She always put a fan in the window to pull in the night air. We would watch the news on CBS then a bit of the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. Grandma liked when the Mutual of Omaha animal guy was on and grandpa liked the monologue. Lawrence Welk, Archie Bunker, Carol Burnett. All staples of my youth that originated in this house. Roast, potatoes and carrots in the pressure cooker for dinner, which was the noon meal then. A pie made with the fresh rhubarb Grandpa and I had cut from the corner of the little yard that morning. When I got older, all the cute boys on the block, the Free Fair, walking downtown to Frische’s and the library. My whole life has always been in this house.

Now it is my Mother’s house. It’s still just as adorable. I can’t wear her pajamas because she has remained stubbornly thin, but we still eat vanilla ice cream with chocolate syrup. We watch all the old movies on Turner Classic Movies. We still go to the library downtown and last night we had Bigboys with extra sauce and hot fudge cake from Frische’s. Mom has kept all of the bedrooms wallpapered ceilings although she pulled up all of the carpet to reveal unknown hardwood in perfect condition beneath. I still drink juice in the mornings out of the same glasses my Grandma had and now my Mom use. The house is still in immaculate condition. I now sleep in my Grandmother’s blue floral bedroom when I come and Mom and I talk about how crazy she always was and we laugh and laugh.

Not everyone gets the opportunity in life to have a house be a part of the family. I thank God I do. I will leave here today and it will make my soul sad. I long for my family when I am not near them. I miss sitting on the front porch in the evenings and listening to the train whistle in the wee hours of the morning. I miss the rain on the metal awnings on the bedroom windows upstairs. I even miss the sump pump in the basement that has filled many  dark nights with the thought of what might be hiding at the bottom. This house, these memories, these leavings. They are as big a part of me as my green eyes are. This house is part of that. It is a part of me.

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