We all have incidents in our lives that change us; some for the good and others for the bad. Then there are those events that make us the people we are destined to become. These changes may take weeks, months, or even years, but when they do come, they either come at us head-on or tackle us from behind. What changed my life had tackled me as though I was a quarterback, and life — the defense lineman — just itching to toss me on my ass.
Birthdays are not always memorable, especially for a young child, but I remember my sixth birthday vividly. We moved into the house I grew to love that day. When I first saw my new bedroom, I pestered my mom into painting the ceiling as though it was the sky, complete with stars that sparkled when the lights were turned off. Granted, my mother was no Leonardo da Vinci, but the woman had the skills to create the resemblance of a magnificent nighttime sky.
I would often lie in bed at night staring up at my stars, thinking each one was like a dream come true and if only I could reach up and grab one. In my mind’s eye, as I gazed up at them, they twinkled and helped me sleep better.
My sister’s bedroom was just down the hall from mine. Older than me by two years, she was the kind of sister who would never let me forget she was the eldest, not for a minute. She also thought she was superior. As you can tell, we didn’t get along and to this day we still have our differences. I truly believed she hated me, well, that’s what I sensed from her. When we were near each other, the feeling of friction was so strong that I thought the sparks we created might ignite and burst into flames at any moment. Hate can be like that: the longer it’s harbored, the more flammable it becomes.
She always seemed so much smarter than me. I could always tell she was my dads’ favorite, well, that was my impression growing up. No matter what I did, it was never good enough for him. I guess it’s something siblings and children go through as they grow up together.
After I turned fourteen, we moved to a new house in a different town far away from everything we knew and loved; everything that felt right. My sister stopped talking to me on the same day. Her verbal communication became that of a caveman with grunts and groans over anything and everything I said. Apparently, it was my fault she had to leave her friends behind. Reflecting on my life-changing incident, I should have been more careful that night. I should have trusted my gut feeling.
A car passed as I turned towards the road, its muffler spitting out gray smoke that filled the pre-summer air. My eyes caught a glimpse of the FOR SALE sign hammered into the front lawn with a SOLD sticker across the front. I strolled up the stone walk to the front door. The lilac bushes planted in the garden gave off a sweet smell, an enticing aroma.
I stood still, musing if this house could talk and tell you about all the memories we shared here, good and bad. It was nearly twenty-six years since I had seen this house, my old home. The house is now painted an olive green which is a far cry from the buckskin brown I remembered. I knew I would come back to our old house one day, but I never thought I would buy it.
I jingled the keys in my hand and unlocked the door, entering with mixed emotions. Everything looked just as I had imagined it. I stood in the foyer and soaked up all my old memories.
Still feeling uneasy, I walked into the living room. The floodgates opened and reminiscences flew around my mind. I recalled the dark brown sofa and loveseat we had. Those pieces of furniture always felt like an old pair of corduroy jeans; soft to the touch and comfortable against the flesh of my legs.
The walls were still painted a light pineapple yellow, so that hadn’t changed. We would often sit for hours in this room playing games and watching television. The current carpet, a beige Berber with lighter shades of background colors, were pleasing to the eye, not like the light blue shag we had.
In the kitchen at the rear of the house, I could still visualize my mother cooking us meals, and baking cookies and pies. She was a woman of multiple household talents. As a child, I spent many hours doing my homework at the dining room table while helping my mom cook in between. I had an inexplicable connection to my mother. No matter what was on my mind, she would always sit down and listen to me. She never interrupted me or even tried to force her opinions on me. We were closer than my sister and me.