Thursday, July 3, 2008

I was on the back porch yesterday trying my best to stay out of the way of the man installing our new alarm system. The bells and whistles put my pets in a panic. So. To. Speak. The prickly straw of the hand-me-down chair I parked my rear upon poked inside me a memory of childhood.
I thought about the back door parlors of my past and how, for a Florida-born gal, they became the most important room in the house.
Particularly, the house on Third Street. It's three thousand square feet were sprawling, but the claim to fame was not in it's interior. The Third Street house boasted a large cement slab painted teal and was walled-in up to the waist on three sides with just a narrow void for escaping into the back yard. It's where my birthday party pinatas we're brutally ambushed by squealing friends whose names I can't remember and where my mother and step father retreated nightly to drink beers from cans and call each other names.
All the marathon Saturday morning garage-sale gems ended up here. A chalkboard fit for a schoolteacher's child, a tiny desk for official kid-business, and a pair of white high-top roller-skates with red wheels and Strawberry Shortcake posing preciously on the side came to mind. The chalkboard was green. Or black. I wish I could remember.
Across the deep-smelling canal was "the field". It's purpose was, of course, to grow weeds. And to be the final resting place for a summer's worth of white sand. A gift from my step-dad. A kid's dream in the shape of a mountain. A month's worth of ringworm.
In adulthood I have not grown graceful, but childhood summers were scab-filled and fantastic. Tiny badges of fearless adventure. Each bicycle wreck was a triumph, although a deluge of tears were it's right of passage. And that teal slab and it's roof were a haven to the bumped-heads and bruised shins of myself and my cohorts. A pristine Popcicle palace.
On my present porch I had hopes for my family. My dogs grinned sopping smiles on the shady concrete slab. I imagined it will live up to the the place that resonates in my own memories. It's few potted plants and the rusty barbecue grill may not be what my dreams are made of, but the future is a sweaty surprise. The breezes out here, temporary and frequent, are the beginning of a timeless love-affair with summer. I just know it.

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