Some days, some places

August 5, 2007 at 3:38 PM (family) ()

Time really can stand in one place.  Somewhere it is always August…late August when I am more than five but less than ten years old…

I am again in the house of someone I believed to have considerable wealth…a jovial heavyset mysterious man who loved to expose people to the unexpected, a sentiment I agreed with…

When I was young, before the weight came on, I learned a soundless (or nearly so) stealth in my home, in order not to wake up a dangerously hung over father, or an emotionally exhausted mother…

But the loveliest by product of this was that …stealth worked in other places too….This August house was very very very long…and only built on one floor to accommodate the great girth and limited mobility of my great uncle… If I ever win the lottery, I will go to the owners of that place in Walton Hills and give them whatever bucks they want…because that house would suit me just as well now as then… The talk of the grownups only interested me when it turned to books or travel…after the alchohol had been flowing for a bit I tended to become invisible…do that slow fade that children learn… to begin the search.  The search for ‘treasure….’

There were two separate huge baths (one in a ridiculous pink, that I suppose the Sixties could not avoid…and the other in a sea green…connected right up with each other….  The first third of the long tiled hallway that connected everything was a black and white tiled expanse that fascinated me, in part because I had to be so careful while walking across it. Kitchen to the right, closets and then the vast bedroom at the end of the hall….the entire house was really dimly lit and felt both welcoming and vaguely inimical all at once.  The sweet black Laborador would follow me even into rooms of the house he was normally forbidden to enter…so my treasure might be a cloth napkin of a color I’d never seen, or a button my great Aunt had dropped that looked like a pearl or a jewel in the middle of a vast dark carpet…or a thimble made of cloth and another made of metal  that somehow got woven “into” a piece of embroidery she’d left unfinished….I never kept these things…it wasn’t about stealing…but I wanted to spend time with these odd little pieces, because I had the  idea that if I did I could figure the house out without asking a grownup what they would consider to be a ‘dumb’ question….I’d leave them on a table when I came back to the crowded living room or just before we sat down to dinner.  There was the bookshelf behind the big chair with a light right by it.  I wanted to stay there all day…or the dining room just behind with some kind of heavy medium wood table and lace coverings… and heavy curtains and some candles…

Corn shucking is happening at a great pace….in a lavish, but small kitchen with at least three of my relatives, in huge aprons that allowed serious cooking whilst already in high heels, hose, and fancy dresses…

The meat on the barbeque is different every August…once venison, then my personal favorite buffalo, and then the unremarkable quail….

I was, unfortunately, forced into eating clam or oysters or some mussel or other at one of these things…but I was also introduced to what would later become my only favorite seafood–shrimp, as boiled and covered with any and all sauces one might think of…

It’s always nearly sunset and a good two hours of playing outside in the bright, offset my Gothic fancies about the house…everyone is full of humor and racketing talk because my father’s people are/were the ones I get my high verbal setup from. There were three boys, my father’s cousins who were at interesting ages betwixt and between my father and myself….they belonged to the youngest Great Aunt, not the lady of this house…. The middle Great Aunt was the joyful  hostess of this house…occasionally’ we would see her daughter, a woman who  was as mysterious to me as the heavyset great uncle, but in a different way….an actual actress, with a screenwriter husband and a home in California…I was hideously pesky of them, moreso than the boys…I wanted to know about how people actually lived, out on the Western edge.

This is a place that time *has* to stand still for you see, because the Uncle wasn’t that mysterious, and the Aunt not all that happy….and so many of those intelligent, cheerful, *powerful*  faces have either been indirectly damaged by addiction or mental illness…or directly destroyed by it.

We all had potential back then.  It’s not so much that it was never talked about…more likely that August just turned out…to be some of everyone’s “good days.”

Some days, some places.  Time *has* to stand still.

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