Friday, January 02, 2009

for Richer or Poorer

"Twists of fortune, wedding vows, the woes of the economy, dreams of riches. You might write about what it was like being a poor college student, or what you'd do if you won the lottery. Or about what true riches are, or different kinds of poverty: poverty of the spirit, of the imagination, of the pocket. Have you ever encountered true poverty?"--prompt by Sunday Scribblings

Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes made of ticky tacky,1
Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes all the same.
There's a green one and a pink one
And a blue one and a yellow one,
And they're all made out of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same.

And the people in the houses
All went to the university,
Where they were put in boxes
And they came out all the same,
And there's doctors and lawyers,
And business executives,
And they're all made out of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same.

words and music by Malvina Reynolds

My old house

A song from my elementary school years and a picture of a house I lived in years ago. At least I think it is the house. It has been changed a bit. I think the pointed roof and bow window are new. So is the faux Normandy trim. But I lived there, I, my brother, my mother and my pet rat. The house was brand new at the time. We were the first owners of the new, cheap construction. The house took a bit longer than planned so we rented a different house for a few months, one that was much grander, across from a golf course that I raided for lost balls, I later sold to my father.
My grandparents provided the down payment for the house. My mom on a paycheck from a low end retail job, a single parent with two kids, couldn’t have afforded it. We were pretty poor back then. Not starving but I was always the kid with the scholarship, the kid who brought crappy presents to birthday parties and crappy food to potlucks. We were home alone a lot while why mother worked or we camped out at her work, a jewelry store. They let me help sell cheap stuff, watchbands and charms.
We didn’t stay long there either, maybe a year or two. Then my mother decided to move with me to California where her parents were. I wasn’t consulted. My brother opted to live with my dad. I chose my mom because I believed that she needed me and because I didn’t want to live with my step mother.
We moved into a ratty apartment in Los Angeles. The living room carpet was coated with grease from the disassembly of a motorcycle by the previous owner. I walked to the large public school two blocks away. Not long after we moved in a pervert flashed his parts at me and I walked to school on the other side of the street for months. The rental was replaced with a condo, also funded by my grandparents. It was nicer but I was off to college not long after. I’d lived in 16 homes in my first 16 years. I wasn’t getting attached to apartments even ones called condominiums.
I never liked LA and I never really forgave my mother for moving me out of Seattle. I understood her reasons but still think my ties to my father should have come first. The hidden gift was living four years a few blocks away from my grandparents. They enriched my life and kept me sane through high school. I still miss them.
Returning to Seattle as I did last week is always bittersweet. Good memories and bad, and a feeling of loss when I head “home” again. I love Seattle, the city, as I loved my grandparents. It and they were my roots as much as my parents were.


Eric Allix Rogers said...

A touching personal story. Thanks for sharing!

Michelle said...

I agree with your opinion of LA, although I've never spent more than a week there, I just don't like it. I'm glad you had your grandparents growing up, sounds like they were very kind and generous people.

Linda Jacobs said...

That was a tough childhood! Sounds like it made you a stronger and better person, though!

SweetTalkingGuy said...

Love the ticky tacky!

gautami tripathy said...

Like this slice of your life. Roots are so very important...

For richer and/or poorer

floreta said...

thank you for sharing. i love the house!

too bad the memories may not all be pleasant. but i'm glad you had a supportive family.. it's great to have strong roots.

Blondie said...

I feel guilty that my kids have lived in 3 different homes already in their lives, although we have always lived in the same general neighborhood. I hope that the house I just bought will be the one they will always consider "home." I was born in Seattle, but my parents moved when I was a baby. I used to go there for work all the time and loved it. I went back for a visit and we drove around trying to find my parent's old house, so we could take a picture of it. Even though I don't remember it, it was still something I wanted to do!

MamaPeg said...

Thanks for sharing. My aunt always says, "What doesn't kill us makes us stronger." She's a feisty old broad!

SJ said...

The song is the opening song for the TV show Weeds. They actually get someone different to sing it for each episode in a different style. It is a unique idea. Thanks for stopping by my blog, I have added you to me Google Reader.

Tumblewords: said...

Roots are surely a true wealth! Thanks for sharing your story.

A Free Man said...

Great post! We moved around a lot growing up as well - I don't think we did 16 houses in 16 years, but pretty close!

gel said...

Very moving. Your grandparents were incredibly generous! I can tell you miss them.