smaller than i remember

today, my dad drove me down memory lane.... through the back streets of mount vernon, and past each house i lived in as a kid.  looking at the yellow rambler that used to be slate black, that first house i ever lived in, just blocks from the hospital where my mom spat me out, i remembered the maple out front with the helicopter seeds that would spin to the ground.  "none of this was here before," dad said, nodding at development upon development... "these used to be two lane roads".  a man peered paranoid out the front door window, beckoning us to keep driving.   

we then drove upon the apartment he and my mom lived in before i was born, a neatly manicured brown ranch.  "there were really nice exposed beams inside," dad said, and i imagined what it was like, them all bright, young, optimistic, and just at the beginning of it all.  

we found my aunt jeannie and uncle pork's house, on manito drive.  i remembered walking those streets, past those houses, as a little kid.  back then the house was full of my teenage cousins, cigarette smokey haze with sparkly popcorn ceilings, outside was pork's green van with shag carpet, tim's dirtbikes, and jeannie's mustang in the garage.  the house was smaller than i remembered, everything was i guess....smaller than i remembered.  "memories are like that," dad said  "just snippets".   the house had been fixed up, long since auntie jeannie moved away and died, long since uncle pork went on to lose it all.  "oh, it looks beautiful.  jeannie would be so happy," dad said.  "but it makes me sad.  because this is where it all fell apart."

"all of this was strawberry fields," dad said as we drove further, "and our street was called trumpeter drive because the swans would flock by the thousands here in the winter."  i looked around at the houses built poorly, only ten years ago, slapped together like gingerbread houses without enough frosting, developed long after we left.  we drove past the hand painted sign, trumpeter court, and curved into the housing development. "it felt upscale, and we liked all the green space," dad said, as we twisted through the wide parkway roads dotted with trees down the middle, all sidewalks and landscaping utopic, set out to find our way to find the little roundabout cul-de-sac where my parents built their first house and i first learned to ride my bike. when we drove upon it, it froze my heart, so familiar and beautiful in the way i remembered.  a humble little place with wooden shakes...the house that built me, nestled in the tall trees, surrounded by good neighbors...herk & mona and their bike collection, the elder family and their two wild boys, the teacher with the lemon drops in a crystal jar....i remembered it all, vividly, every last thing....even the mud lot where we dug clay to make hearts, baked them and painted them.. i still have mine......my first memories, vivid as a picture on a screen...and my house, well, i guess it was smaller than i remember, but just as perfect.

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