Here I am in the middle of the night in the music room/turned sunroom, sitting in my barber's chair looking out on a corner from my childhood. Insomnia is a demon and sometimes a friend. The strongest memory I have of this corner is how my friends and I reenacted the last scene from West Side Story out in the middle of the street. We were thirteen and very dramatic. We would take turns being Tony and Maria running towards each other. Tony would get shot and Maria would kneel over him sobbing. Then we'd sing "There's a Place For Us." I'm sure if my mother had known we were doing this out in the middle of the street, she would have had a fit.
You would think my strongest memory would be seeing a woman get hit by a car here, walking in the crosswalk because the driver of the car had the sun in his eyes. I had just completed a First Aid course at the University of Utah and ran to her with a rolled up blanket to stabilize her head. She wanted to get up and kept saying, "My head hurts so. My head hurts so." My mom had called 911 and I sat with the woman, holding her hand and trying to comfort her. She stayed conscious, so I thought the prognosis was good. Wrong. A couple of days later, her obituary was in the newspaper.
This corner was a source of aggravation for my parents because they were forced to have their property extended out into the street because of this accident (and others). The city added bushes, lawn and more sprinklers, forcing my parents to pay for the considerable maintenance of property they would not own.
As I sit here, overlooking what I call 'my manor,' I'm filled with nostalgia. Is it lack of sleep, my age or the fact that I chose to inhabit my childhood home? When my mom was dying, she kept talking about wanting me to take her home. When I mentioned this house, she said, "Oh no, silly. Tenth East." That was her childhood home. My uncle died a month before Mom and he talked of going there too.
When I'm dying, will I want to go back to 11th Avenue - a home filled with intense, loving memories? A home where my sisters and I roamed the neighborhood freely, playing Kick the Can and other childhood games? A home where my father would scoop me up by the bottom with his huge hands to show me this was not the best way to pick up our cat?
This is a picture of my sisters and I in our backyard - so happy and free of concerns.
...and on the right, is, of course, the very dress I was wearing -
still in my possession, like the memories.