Assignment: Tell us about the home where you lived when you were twelve. Which town, city, or country? Was it a house or an apartment? A boarding school or foster home? An airstream or an RV? Who lived there with you? Today’s twist: pay attention to your sentence lengths and use short, medium, and long sentences as you compose your response about the home you lived in when you were twelve.
Ninety-four. That was the number of the house that was home to me from birth and where I lived for almost two and a half decades. I still think of it as home with a level of emotional attachment that is not connected to any other place I have lived since.
The bungalow styled, wooden, one storied house, painted cream on the outside, had three bedrooms and one bath. It was located in a mining town that was divided by a broad, dark river. Coming to the house from the town square, on the right bank of the river, 94 was the third of five houses on the left side of the street. Banana, cherry, mango, coconut, and papaya were among the many trees in the yard. A short path led from the street to the stairs and the front door.
The front door opened into a light yellow, living room with a dark wooden floor; a floor to which polish was applied by hand every Saturday. The floor where I watched several of my older sisters stop, in the midst of completing their chores some Saturday mornings, to dance the twist to songs on the radio, partnered by a long handled broom.
Two bedrooms, my parents’ and the one referred to for decades as the “boys” room, even after my brothers no longer lived at home, were on the right side of the living room. The predominant image of the living room was of shade and coolness. Quite a feat for a house in the tropics without a single air conditioning unit or central air system. The wooden, vaulted ceiling and the wooden floors, which ran throughout the house, took credit for this inviting ambience.
The combination of a wall and curtains separated the living room from the dining room. Immediately upon entering the dining room, on the internal, light green wall to the left, were built in book shelves; shelves that extended to a corner of the external wall, where they joined similar book shelves that ended at the dining room windows. It was at 94 that my life-long affair with reading began.
The two tall, wooden windows of the dining room opened outwards in the direction of the house of my favorite male neighbor, Mr. G. On the other side of the windows was a cabinet that served as storage for daily use dishes, cutlery, and other utensils. The domed top served as the bread bin.
In the middle of the room was a table with a brown top decorated with white, painted-on scrolls that formed a border along the edges. It was at this table that we all gathered for lunch on Sundays. All other meals were eaten there but not everyone was present at each meal during the week.
The door that marked the entrance to the pink walled “girls” bedroom, was on the right side of the dining room. A narrow corridor with character, extended from the dining room and ended at the entrance to the kitchen. On the left side of the corridor was the bathroom, comprised of two rooms. Next to the bathroom was a long window with a sink as its neighbor. The corridor turned abruptly to the right at the single faucet sink and was bordered by two shelves that housed various knick knacks, and the back wall of the girls’ bedroom.
Right where the corridor ended, at the entrance to the kitchen, was the back door. The door was next to the stove and across the room from the refrigerator. Another window, with a low bench immediately in front of it, was beside the sink with its long draining board. Above the sink was a small window that faced an identical window in the kitchen of the neighbors who were closest to us physically and emotionally. These emotional ties have held and strengthened over the years. We continue to celebrate and mourn together even though we live in separate states, separated by thousands of miles and for some, oceans.
My Dad, Mom, four of my sisters, one of my brothers, two nephews, an almost 8-months old niece, a slightly older female cousin, and my twelve year old self, shared 94. Three generations and an extended family member, at home in house on the left side of the street, that led from the town square with the town market and the memorial to fallen soldiers.