I can't remember when exactly I started doing this, but, instead of counting sheep when I cannot sleep (something, really, that never made much sense to me), I take a mental tour through all of the homes I have lived in. I start out with the one I can remember everything about (or mostly everything); this being the first house we lived in after we moved to San Diego in 1969.
I do recall bits and pieces; odds and ends, about earlier houses, but, interestingly enough, I remember more of things to do with the neighbors/the neighborhood than those actual houses.
For example, the house on Sunset Lane in West Lafayette, IN where my sister and I lived with our Father and Mom, I remember it was next to a energy station and there was a constant buzz in the air. My not-yet Step Dad and his first wife lived on the same street, several houses away. I remember sitting outside at a picnic table there in what was like a breeze-way. And, of course, I remember being knocked off the back-end of my sister's tricycle by a huge standard poodle named Cocoa. How could I NOT remember this as Cocoa, after straddling my chest, bent his head down and bit through the lobe of my left ear. My mom kept the news clipping and I still have it, "Girl, 3 bit by neighborhood dog". Obviously, there wasn't much exciting going on in that town!
The Sunset Lane House
Amy and Ann at Sunset Lane 1964
Amy and Father at Sunset Lane 1965
The next house, the first that my Mom and Step Dad lived in together, was over in Lafayette (as opposed to WEST Lafayette; crossing a bridge over the Wabash meant the difference between the two) was on Carlisle Road. Once again, I don't recall overly much about the house other than snippets. Sitting on the back of the couch watching "The Wizard of Oz" with my sister Ann (duly terrified of the witch and her flying monkeys). Hanging out in this incredible backyard with an astonishing garden with my sisters (now plural as the marriage brought me another sister) and Ann's friend Debbie Boyd. Sitting in Mrs. Boyd's kitchen waiting for her freshly baked bread to come out of the oven. To this day, I remember her killer bread! Vague recollection of spending time in the house behind ours with a boy my age named Simon.
Kathy, Amy and Ann at Carlisle Road 1968
Ann, Debbie and Amy at Carlisle Road 1969
There is probably something more scientific regarding memory than this, but, I think when your memory is still young; meaning, there isn't much yet to remember, what you tend to recall are memories of feelings, events, people; nothing terribly specific. As you mature, your mind is able to hold onto details and put them into their proper place. Hence, the earlier houses I lived in, I don't remember things like how many bedrooms there were, the color of the carpet or where the bathroom was located but I do remember the people surrounding me and certain things that happened. Obviously had I remained in either of those houses for a longer period of time, those things would have stuck with me, just like I can remember every detail of my Grandma's house on Highland because, even though my very first visit there occurred when I was an infant, my last was when I was in my thirties.
Dad, Grandpa, Grandma, Mom and Amy at the
Highland House 1969
Mom, Grandma, Amy and Rebecca at the
Highland House 1994
So, our first house in San Diego on Terrace Drive. That is where my ritualistic Parade of Homes commences when I cannot sleep. With it, and every house the follows, I allow myself to walk up to the front door and go inside. I look to the left, to the right; taking note of the various rooms and even small details like a window seat over there or the placement of the dining room table. With each house, with each room, memories flood and I might find myself a bit distracted. Depending on the mood and what memories chose to come, I may end up in one house for a very long time indeed. Sometimes, in fact, I'll fall asleep never having left the Terrace Drive house.
Sometimes while in the Terrace Drive house, I spend time thinking about the two elderly ladies that lived, by themselves, on either side of us. I liked one "better" than the other, Mrs. Aiken. Her house was pretty large (compared to ours, I guess, which was sort of like a bungalow) and she had this really neat ottoman in her living room that opened up to reveal a stash of toys and games she let me play with. She'd give me treats in her tidy kitchen. The other lady, Mrs. M (I can't recall her last name) lived in a house similar to ours. She also would give me treats but I don't think I had as much fun with her as I did with Mrs. Aiken. Looking back, I do believe they had a sort of adversarial relationship and used me to poke each other; "Take that, Mrs. M., the child is visiting with ME today!" Now, I wonder why; and also why they were always alone. Where were their families? Their grandchildren? I'm sure there were stories, there always are. And, how interesting that my Mom allowed me to go pester them on a routine basis! I cannot imagine anything like that going on these days! But, of course, that was over forty years ago and things have really changed in this world.
Amy and Mom at Terrace Drive. 1969
Note: Mrs. M's house is on the left!
We had this nasty all-black cat named Warlock when we lived on Terrace Drive. Seriously, he was AWFUL. For whatever reason, he took a particular dislike to my sister Ann and would purposefully hide underneath the dining room table, stalking her. When she'd walk by, he'd leap out and pounce on her legs, all claws out. She forever had scratches up and down her skinny white legs (yet another memory!) Because this was before Mom and Dad wised up to leaving cats outside, Warlock met an end he more than likely deserved; squashed on the entrance ramp to I-15 (which was literally a hop, skip and jump down the street).
In the same dining room where Warlock once had his lair, me and a group of my friends chased each other around the table with balloons tied to our ankles. It was my 6th birthday party and my Mom had come up with this brilliant idea; we all had the balloons on our ankles, we went around in a circle and attempted to stomp on the balloons of the girl ahead of us. Once your balloons were stomped, you were out of the circle. The girl with last balloons standing (so to speak) won the game and a prize.
My brother Jon was born when we lived in that house. I woke up one September morning to discover our usual babysitter was there instead of Mom and Dad (we still called him Uncle Butch at that point in time, though). I still remember that the babysitter was tying my shoes when she informed me and Ann that we now had a baby brother.
Ann made me an angel food cake with white frosting and poinsettia decorations for my 7th birthday.
Amy at Terrace Drive with cake by Ann 1970
Dad tells me I learned to really, really read sitting in the window seat with the Little House series. One of his memories is working in the kitchen, hearing me read out loud. One of my chores while living in that house was to empty the trash and clean the ashtrays. I took great pride in being the best ashtray cleaner ever. I had a ritual and an order to the process, the last ashtray I cleaned was always the big heavy clear glass one in the TV room in the back of the house.
Sisters at Terrace Drive: Kathy, Amy and Ann
Ah, having begun this Blog entry, I've realized I have a lot more to remember and write about. So, I'll carry this forward in the next post, as, it's time to get cracking with my present day.