The second assignment we were given in the Intro to Creative Writing class last term was to write a personal memoir. We were given a limited word count (which I went over) but I did the best I could in the allotted length. I’ll let the story speak for itself.
The moment I shut off the ignition in my manual-transmission, white Toyota Matrix, the summer heat began to permeate the dark gray interior, no longer held at bay by the blasting air conditioner. I clicked the ignition to accessory long enough to put all four power windows down and then turned around to look into the backseat. My two daughters were sitting there looking back at me in curiosity as the afternoon sun shone through the windows. Jordan is the oldest with long brown hair and dark thoughtful eyes, and Jaycie is the youngest with shoulder-length blond hair and bright blue eyes. If I hadn’t given birth to both of them, I wouldn’t believe they’re sisters.
I turned from my daughters to look out the opening of the front passenger window. My eyes met the sight of the family home I lived in until I was 13. I had wanted to show my daughters that house for several years and I’d taken advantage of the warm summer day to do so finally. As the girls still live in their childhood home (my ex’s house) for half the week, they don’t understand what it is to have to move away from the place they’ve known as home since they were babies. I know that feeling and I always yearned to be back in my childhood home because life was so much simpler when I lived there with my family.
The house was pea soup green when I lived there 24 years ago, but one of the newer owners had covered it with boring beige siding. The bushes that used to be under the front bedroom windows were gone, but it was something beneath them that interested me. My father built a retaining rock wall at the end of those bushes when I was little and my brothers and I all pressed our hands into the wet cement when he was finished. I went to my childhood house that summer day because I had to know if any of those handprints remained. I wanted to touch that part of my past and reunite with a piece of my father’s spirit.
Jordan didn’t want to get out of the car so I left the two back doors open to let the breeze through as Jaycie and I walked hand-in-hand into the yard. It was late morning on a weekday so the current owners weren’t home. I led Jaycie to where I remembered the rock wall being and was delighted to see that most of it remained, though grass and ground cover had grown over it. With Jaycie standing by watching, I knelt in the warm grass, pushed back the encroaching growth, and smiled when I saw that a long fragment of the cement base was intact.
With the grass pushed back, I could make out one handprint in the cement, but I didn’t know whose handprint it was. Regardless, I pressed my adult hand into that print and discovered that my palm fit perfectly in the indent while my fingers extended well beyond those childhood fingers. Elation filled me. I’d finally done it! I’d finally come back home to that rock wall my father built and reconnected with my past. My father’s work remained and knowing that, I felt able to move forward with my life without looking back toward a home that didn’t belong to me anymore.