Tag Archives: Nostalgia

The House at the Top of The Hill



Taking the late bus home from cheerleading practice, I would have to yell “Stop at the top of the hill!” to the schoolbus driver, who would invariably be listening to WMMR turned up nice and loud while driving a bunch of rowdy jocks, bandies and club nerds home from after-school activities. If I didn’t, it would mean a looong walk down from McCollugh’s, which was the next stop.

My brother is selling the house we grew up in. It’s a house made for a family, sadly fallen to neglect and disrepair for a whole washlist of reasons to tedious to go into. I left it when I got married in 1987 and never looked back. This feeling of nostalgia arising from the news of the sale is unexpected.

Once our father passed away, I ‘d urged my brother to sell up and start fresh somewhere new, somewhere without the emotional baggage tied up in the bricks and mortar of our family home. It is important to note here that I have no financial interest whatsoever in the property. My brother spoke to me at length (yelled and raged and fumed) about how I was 100 different kinds of wrong about starting fresh. He had “buddies” who were going to help him fix up the place. Having moved and rebuilt homes a number of times at that point, I advised caution about employing “buddies” but again, I was 100 different kinds of wrong (mostly because I am a “girl” and don’t live in the real world). My doubts about the time, effort and cost of fixing the house up were also pooh-poohed ( because I couldn’t possibly know how these things work ). Shortly after that particular conversation my brother and I stopped speaking to one another.

The other day I peeked at the realty site and saw that the house was finally under offer. Looking through the photos of the interior, memories rose unbidden: the sound of the screen door (long replaced) with glass louvers used to make when we’d run out to play on a summer day, the winey smell of the apple trees (cut down more than 30 years ago) in September, delight at looking out the back door and seeing bunny rabbits in the back-yard on a spring morning, the way the dial phone used to ring, running like a maniac down the stairs to answer it,and oh God! Please let it be Jeremy!, the dining room: ravioli and gravy on a Sunday afternoon and an assortment of my friends or my brother’s friends just dropping by and pulling up a chair and a plate to the table, in the big (in my memory) screen porch where I’d practice rollerskating (also long gone), running from the front door down the driveway to the mailbox where I to look for the next letter from my Dutch fiancé (now my husband of 30 years)…

No visible repairs have been made to the house either inside or out. It would seem that the plans with the “buddies” fell through. My thoughts turned to what could have been done to remodel it, and then, realizing that this was a direct route down What-if-crazy-street, imagining instead a wish list for the new family who will be living there soon.

I wish for them good times and lots of people who love them filling the rooms, holidays with merriment and music, not stress and shouting, many backyard cookouts and people staying until the wee hours because its just so nice to be there. Above all may they find there the stability and joy that never took root for us.

Guard Yr Life



–for Rich Schoener, wherever he may be

We had season passes to paradise.

So privileged and immortal,

we spent those summers,

endless days of sun and

cloudless skies.

– Oil my back

– Any time, baby

Sensual, not sexual

we lay basking like seals in

the “lifeguards’ corner”.

– Up for a game?

– Backgammon or volleyball?

– Not cards, you cheat at Hearts

– Shoot the moon, baby

– Queen of Spades

-Anybody got money for Cokes?

Remember the time we all came down

with strep throat

from sharing?

Nobody was fat back then.

-Catch some rays, man

– Blue’s reading “Bored of the Rings”, I got it next

– Must be sexy

Elves, baby, easy pickins’

Friday nites dancing at the catholic school,

fresh from the pool,

shower, clean clothes

and a Binaca blast.

-Does my breath smell ok?

My cousin dated “Disco Joe”.

I only wanted Mr. Too Cool Slouched in the Dark Corner

to ask me to dance,

and he did.

Brother Séan, cowled sepulchre strolled over

and hissed

– You two are dancing too close. A pencil’s length

between you

is required.

We stepped back, it would wait.

Sneak into the State Park

his back seat,

honeysuckle vine perfume…

Oh yes! We were golden then.

We had that last summer

before everybody went away to school.

The following one was


I didn’t dare tell you to oil my back

or grab a swig of your Coke.

It was still the “lifeguards’ corner”,

only we were old-guard,

18-year-old has-beens,

last year’s model,

shy in our obsolescence.

-Guard your life, baby.

I haven’t seen you since.

What happened?

They sold the swim club.

Maybe they’ll put up a trailer park instead.

Maybe on a hot summer day,

some welfare mom is gonna step

outside her unit

and catch a glimpse of our ghosts

playing in the sun.


* Photo from Google

Cross-posted from my primary blog:  http://oursalon.ning.com/profiles/blogs/guard-yr-life