Monday, December 03, 2007

"Our house was a very, very fine house"

This is where we grew up. Not where we spent the majority of our childhoods, Kimbies and I, but the mostness of them.....Here, in this thirty-two room playhouse.

I remember the very first time we saw it, empty except for the furniture that had been custum made to fit the nooks and crannies....that came with the deal...the giant round satin couches filled with goose down.....We tried them out fannies first, over and over again, laughing as the brocade spit feathers flying....the toy box under the windows, wrapped in a semi circle, empty, except for a few old crayons and the scribblings of children before us.....my beds, set head to foot lining the east wall, wrapped in a meandering wrought iron grapevine.....I took my fingers and traced the walls....New Orleans was there, in all her dark and smokey taboo....hand painted on the walls....

We moved in and rocked the neighborhood. Our parents were beautiful, he, handsome and successful and rarely home, she, whispy and blonde and "different". It was here that Curty learned to crawl, and babble, and ride a bike, that Skinny and Chance were born. It was here that we first learned to believe.....

in happenchance
and fairytales
and to dance to our own music....
it was here that we learned there were a set of tracks that
were laid right side up and wrong side down
and that it was okay to cross
them,
skinny legs flying on spider bikes with banana seats and spokes spiked with poker cards and clothespins.....

here that we learned unconditional love.....
to not be afraid of poltergiests or ghosts or things that goes bump in the night....
to take in strays, because they're not really stray after all,
they're just waiting for you to open the door....
that man could really walk on the moon....
if he wanted to.....

It was here that we were free.....
That we lived our Pippi Longstocking childhoods......
riding bikes down hallways,
depositing each other, clinging,
down the laundrey shoot....one story, two, three into a mountain of dirty clothes.....
swimming in Mom's leftover calgoned bathwater until it was tepid and filthy....
Coloring on walls, higher than we could reach and down halls that led to eternity....
flying in cardboard box race cars down spiral staircases....bumpity bumpity bump until I broke my nose and
a big toe
and somebody had to stop us,
playing bartender with this wine and that and some soda to make it all fizzle,
building forts in the flower beds
and tree houses with mattresses, seventeen strong kids in a line to lift it,
digging tunnels to nowhere
and China
and downtown....

And here in this house,
Kimbies slept with goldfish and hermit crabs
in a pink princess bed with a pink princess phone
and
I slept with ghosts at the end of the hall....

When we caravaned out in the middle of the night,
took flight
with empty suitcases
to our next adventure
we didn't know to say the words....

"Thank you, house"......

you hippie, gypsy, haunted little house.....

42 comments:

kj said...

i am speechless. have to read this again and not let the brillant light of the words blind me from the story. i'll be back.

:)

sean said...

....... "I'll light the fire while you place the flowers in the vase that you bought today, la la lalala, la...."
a hauntingly beautiful ride back to your house ..... "with two cats in the yard life used to be so hard, now everything is easy cause of you." ....... and back in my mind to another time another place.
Thank you hippie, gypsy P.

karma lennon said...

Oh wow. That is so awesome. Now THAT is the childhood I wanted. :)

JustRun said...

Two cats in the yard... life used to be so hard...

I love that you take the good from it all in the memory of a home.

kj said...

you know, i never would have guessed that is was your background, childhood, influence, affluence, confluence, congruence...

ha! what a tribute you have written. and i, who views you and slb as working class, middle class, unique-class heroines, learn yet again that assuming is just plain silly!

:)

i beati said...

did you have the 2 cats in the yard. haah ibeati

Maithri said...

Dear Singleton

'we didn't know to say the words....

"Thank you, house"......'

My friend reading your words, wild as the grass and sweet as sugar cane, I feel as though... I'm there... walking through these beautiful haunted hallways...

Gazing in wonder as you... even then... dance to your own music.

If these walls could talk...

They would say

"Thank you, Singleton.

For leaving
your sweet footprints
in the 32 rooms
of my heart.

For all the unconditional,
golden, gypsy love.

Hope you're still dancin girl"

And you are.

Oh how you dance.

Loving you, M

singleton said...

kj.....ahhhh, silly girl, don't ever second guess yourself! You were much closer to the truth the first time around! Our "affluence" was just another magic carpet ride.....the real estate value of haunted homes was pricey, but quite affordable to those naive enough or brave enough to hang their hat there! For years and years, we kept up with the house through the grapevine, and at last count, yup, we hippiejippie hillbilly gypsies we're the only ones that stayed long enough to call her home. But then again, Tilly sorta liked us!

Sean.....I'm glad it took you there, to another place and time, and I hope in your house, the spirits were as fine as they were in ours!
"Come to me now, and rest your head for just five minutes,
Everything is done.
Such a cozy room, the windows are illuminated
By the evening sunshine through them,
Fiery gems for you, only for you."

justrun....those walls fed our imaginations and dreams, protected us from the world.....She was good, really good!

peace~love my friends

singleton said...

ibeati....
Silly girl, we had everything in the yard! Fat cats and spotted dogs, rusty bikes, and mismatched garbage cans, orchids, and tarantulas, cowboys and indians.....:)

Maithri....
Ahhhh!
Our Mom always said there were 32 rooms and although, we always believed her,
the strangest thing happened everytime we went to count them....
Kim and I traipsing down the halls,
running little fingers three foot high past this door "one,
that door "two"
this door "three".....
we always got sidetracked
Alice in Wonderland
falling
through the looking glass
off on another adventure....
We've even tried it as adults,
counting
in our memories....
"the living room
the library
french parlor".....
and off we'd go again
telling
spooky
giggly
remember when
stories......

"Haunted" they called her.....
"Blessed" we believed.....

Peace~love my friends
and yes,
I believe that houses
like birds
and trees
and people,
have souls.....
and they need to be loved.....
if they're to love us back.....

benjibopper said...

hooray for that house!

hooray for that childhood!

i must go dance with my cat now, leonard cohen is calling me.

kj said...

where is eric?

singleton said...

I'm dancin' with cats, too!
Ta!Dah!
:)

KJ.....Eric's Aunt is very ill, and he's gone home to the circle....Send prayers and love....

We built a bar and moved our porch parties there....The Butterfly Bar! Open 23 seven and 11! Psst.... Don't forget, send prayers!

peace~love my friends

skinnylittleblonde said...

'Thank You House' for bringing me into this world. I had to right click & save the picture, as my memories from here are few and our childhoods were so different. I love the tribute. Beautiful. Hmmm...now if I could find a pic of Sylvan.

Spadoman said...

Right now, we're sorting through the old picture boxes, getting ready for Christmas. We decided to bring a bunch of old photos to my daughter's place when we'll all be there. So many of the family members, in different houses. We are actually having a little trouble identifying some of them,
"Where was this taken?"

"I dunno, I think that was when we lived in......"

Yes, we moved a lot, but did stay stable enough to build memories as we were always together, and the kids did the same things you did and I did, let their minds take them on an adventure with an old cardboard box or some old rags as costumes for a play they put on for us.

But also, with each house we lived in, there will be another story about that particular place, the neighbors and neighborhood, the bedrooms or the bathroom and what was unusual or memorable about them.

Peace to all.

singleton said...

sweet sister love.....
Clink!
"Thank you house for delivering her into our world"!
I remember so vividly
Nana and Dad in the
kitchen
drinking highballs
and playing poker
betting on what your name would be....
(And no matter what he tells you, sweet child, you know who
chose!)
and then
the lobby of
Baptist Hospital
where my voice echoed on the marble
floors
and Kimbies curled on the vinyl couch
in front of the well lit acquarium,
and Curty,
a love lumpkin.....
waiting....
for the first time,
without our parents,
alone for a moment
just the three of us
until there
was four........
and the wild eyed
electric haired
baby "just like me"
named you
came into our lives....

And by the time we left
North Hill....
another....
the face of change
and chance
and chinese eyes....

We'll find you a picture of Sylvan sweet sister, we'll find you a picture of
your childhood, too.....

ILYSVVM

love grows....

singleton said...

Sweetspado....
Houses like songs, are timemarkers for those of us that gypsied through our childhoods....
each one a tell-tale
bookmark of what,when,where,why....
we have only
two pictures of this house....
this one...taken long after we left
and an inked drawing,
on a greeting card,
drawn before we arrived.....

Share those pictures, share those memories....
May the circle grow and grow and grow and grow.....

peace~love my friend

skinnylittleblonde said...

lol, I must be overly-emotional...i'd probably cry over a Publix commercial right now...but your words here are so beautiful, they bring a tear to my eye...picturing chanty-boy as a new-born... ilysvm...talking to kimbies now. xoxox

Spadoman said...

SLB.... As we were looking through these pictures, we had music playing. The 4 GB iPod, loaded with a zillion songs, going random out of our new Bose docking station was filling the kitchen and dining room full of music as old as the pictures. I shed a few tears today as I equated the song with a memory. Sad, melancholy, happy, didn't matter. Cleansing tears, good for the soul.

Allman Brothers, Melissa; Taj Mahal, Queen Bee; The reasons for the tears are inside.

Peace to all, really, everybody!

singleton said...

Ahhh.......skinny.....must be the moon,
the Christmas Coming,
the cold,
the dark so early in the day.....

Can you remember Chanty as a newborn? I was washed with that today......
the memory of the very day.....
the taunting by Earl the Mayor's son,
the sliding of my bike tire
on the still damp sidewalk,
sliding
sliding
sliding
sideways into his.......
"Your brother has water on the brain" he praddled
and my foot hit the concrete
and my skinny little fist
not quite twelve
hit his upperlip
the pudgy nostrils flaring
and
I knocked the hell out of him.....

"I heard you said that" I said
lifting the purple tangle
back into wheels
and burning rubber
back up the hilll....

I knew they would call....
"your kid hit mine"
so I parked it in the kitchen
under the wall phone
and chewed my fingernails

I wanted to take that call.....

Sweet Chanty boy,
with his mellon head
and crooked smile
and ten fingers,
yup,
count 'em,
all ten fingers,
not one longer than the other....

Sweet Chanty boy,
and then we were five.....

singleton said...

sweetspado....
and now I'm flooded....
yup, silly little hippiechic
crying.....

climbing right into yesterday....

The kitchen,
skinny in the highchair
the car,
red ford fairlane,
the stereo purring long past bedtime.....

"Crimson and clover"....

over and over.....

skinnylittleblonde said...

Busted flat in Baton Rouge,waitin' fer a train, feelin' nearly faded as my jeans...you don't need to change your dress, you don't need to change your shoes.go ahead, be wild & free...freedoms just another word for nothin'left to lose, nothin' don't mean nothin' if it ain't free...

skinnylittleblonde said...

BTW, I really don't recall Chanty Boy coming home, but I do remember Mom loading us up to go to Tally & the boys were sleeping & I was awake...

Ultra Toast Mosha God said...

Ahhh..

The halcyon days of childhood. If only mine were so glamourous.

I remember cycling around a grass triangle on a stabilised bike with an eye patch, hat and cardboard sword.

Oh, to be a junior jester pirate again...

Mary said...

That took me back. Only I didn't get the spider bike w/banana seat but I did get to ride my friends. And of course I managed the cards on the spokes of my old 1950's hand-me-down bike. But that's cool.
You tell it all with such beautiful, swirly, curly, magic language.

justacoolcat said...

All of that and it's aesthetically beautiful too.

wreckless said...

You write wonderfully.
I wish I could express myself as well.
I liked my childhood home a lot too. Great when you can remember good things like that. It sets a great foundation for your life.

Maithri said...

My friend, I wanted to let you know
that i wrote my Christmas post today ;) about another house that's special to me.

I'll take you there one day,

We'll dance, ;)

Love and infinte blessings, M

Mavin said...

That house had 32 rooms!? Wow, good grief, all the more room to play around in I suppose, lol. It's amazing how a place you lived in for several years of your life gives you so many memories to hold on to and affects your life in certain ways to tie those memories you hold together that last forever. I loved how you remembered everything about the house and how it was setup and the memories you have there. The photo is a little dim but I can still the house which looks incredible and pretty. That must be a very old photo?


Take care Singy :D


PS - I'm a finalist in two photography contests!!! :D

eric1313 said...

Missing my super cool hippie connection so bad!

I can't wait to write some time soon. I wrote one tonight, but it really wasn't the best. We will need to have a porch party, you know it?

Thank you for your kind wishes, Singleton. I still have to check my email, but I figured I'd say high to you. Yep, at the college right now, saying hello to some people.

You know, right?

The Electric Orchid Hunter said...

That was vivid and lovely. Big house! Is it still out there? Would you go back and visit? Earlier this year, my father took me back to the house I grew up in. We just sat in the car outside it for a while, not saying anything. The garden was different, all the big trees were gone, extra walls were built in the intervening years, others were knocked down. I couldn't go back even if I wanted to - my childhood home didn't exist anymore.

singleton said...

skinny....yeah, baby....freedom.....
And silly me, I keep forgetting there's ten years between us, and my childhood and yours weren't in tandem....Bless you sweet baby sib, by the time you and Christina were racing the sidewalks on split wheeled big wheels, raising the spirits, we were off dancing on tables! ILYSVVM and have from that very first moment!

ultra.....Oh hell, that was you?:)You shoulda said so a long time ago! Much peace, little pirate!

Mary....:) We did have new spider bikes ONCE! And for one day only, Kimbies and I! They were scarfed up right away by the "steal-me-quicks" and every bike for every child in the family ever since was a spray painted handmedown or fetched from the sheriff's auction for a song! And that would be the beginning of the "decorate the bike" era.......still goin' on two generations later!:)

peace~love my friends
thank your house!

singleton said...

suchacoolcat....We led bohemian childhoods, we just didn't know it, and yes, it was paradise.....I hope they've never paved it!

wreckless....Isn't it funny, how shaped we are by those walls, those stories, those days? And here it is a lifetime later, and in the telling, it's like yesterday....

Maithri....your house is "a very,very,very fine house" with angels in the yard.....Absolutely beautiful, my friend, I am in awe....
at your gift,
your spirit,
your blessedness....
And the power of believing....

Peace~love my friends.....

singleton said...

Mavin....LOL! I'm "very old"! The picture is actually much better in real life, but it's framed and hangs on my walls, and I scanned it through the glass! The house, in real life is really, really old....and has a thousand more stories to tell than I will ever know! I'm so proud of you! Keep it up, my talented friend! Clomping over in a little bit, to hopefully see the winners!

Eric....Too wild! Send~send! Take care, my friend, the porch light's always on.....Still sending prayers and good vibes....Wishing you the best....

Electric....This is the only way I'm going back, right here....like this....Kimbies and I tossed a gazillion more stories out in the wind tonight....Reading your words, I could almost see your eyes, and feel the wave.....like bumping into an old love that you still hold fairytaled to your heart....and then,....
well, you know, you were there....
it's just not the same....

Peace~love my friends.....

skinnylittleblonde said...

oh and i love you so very, very much...

singleton said...

Skinny....
love grows, baby girl....
I just got off the phone with Kimbies
and we were laughin' at this
post, forgetful that our childhoods and yours were ten years after,
but she took me back there again,
to places even I forgot
and they have to be remembered
to be shared
for our children
with them
so they understand we
didn't make this all up...
it really happened....
we really
were
born
hippies....

And Mama collected broken windows
from bulldozed houses
and hung them from
the ceilings
like giant indoor
windchimes...
she wore rings on her toes
instead of shoes

And he smiled....

Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt said...

What an incredibly, beautiful old house! Thank you for sharing it with everyone, S.! And that song...so funny...my girls and I sing it and remember how lucky we are. You have blessed memories. Enjoy them!

singleton said...

katherine...sing on, sweet girl,your house is a very, very, very fine house....

peace~love my friend

Princess Pointful said...

That was flawless and stunning and made me long for photo albums and drawers full of dress-up clothes.

singleton said...

Princess....
Awwww.....you made me smile, hugely.....remembering playing dress up.....Not too long ago! It started with an old Willie Nelson Song and the next thing you know....we were in a Saloon.....
Clink! To imaginations no matter how old we are!

she said...

i spy the opening to your book...

perfect.. captivating.. creative.. beautiful.. enchanting

in a voice so distinct and all your own

love & publishing...

and if i have to do it myself, i will! ~s.

singleton said...

She....
Oh, have I gone and tattletold on myself again?
;)
Peace~love~I spy!

Gillian @ Indigo Blue said...

CSNY and the darling old 32 roomer-haunted no less.
There is something mystical about banana seat bikes...I had one too. Such a statement of cool.
Freedom.
I loved childhood!
xo
Gillian (thanks for reminding me.)