Sunday, August 28, 2016

Trading Lives

In the early morning hours, we leave our farmhouse, the outhouse, the best well water you’ve ever tasted, a large extended family and my best friend behind. My parents are trading a Missouri rural life for an Illinois city life, a new job for my dad at Caterpillar, a new school and a house on Hamilton Street. I feel excited for the adventure, but dread whispers a sad goodbye. 

Mom’s brother is tall, with black hair and tanned skin like her. He’s leaving his farm work behind (for someone else to do) to help us move. His wife has come along to help him haul some of our worldly possessions, in the bed of their pickup.

Along the highways, I switch from looking out of the side window of our car to the front windshield, between my dad’s red curly hair and my mom's head, to watch the pickup traveling in front of our car. Normally, my aunt and uncle fuss at each other, but on this trip, they are newlyweds again, laughing and using names like “honey” and “punkin”. At least temporarily, they trade their old relationship for a pre-marriage one. This new side, of my aunt and uncle, causes me to stare at them, much like people do when passing a car accident. 

After hours of traveling, we arrive on Hamilton Street where darkness has smothered the day and evenly spaced street lamps shed dim light. When we pull into the driveway of a dark house, my dad is the first to exit the car and enter our new home. From the car, I watch the house until blocks of light pop on inside the windows, from the back to the front. My dad appears again in the driveway, and we get out of the car to go inside. He and my uncle begin hauling our things to the house. 

Inside, I explore the unfamiliar two-story with basement, but leave both the upstairs and its basement for another day. I end up back in the kitchen where everyone has gathered. My mom’s tired eyes sparkle when she turns on the kitchen faucet and allows her fingers to dance under the flowing water, a convenience we did not leave behind. She giggles, but my dad says to turn off the water because we have to pay for it now. I’m saddened by his command and wonder how anyone can be made to pay for water.

Two men who seem to know my dad stop by our house. Even though they are old and in their twenties, like my parents, I immediately fall in love with the one called Anthony. He makes me forget my third grade boyfriend back home.

Before long, I follow my uncle and dad back outside, but when they return inside, I stay behind and walk to the edge of the driveway. Each house along the street is close to another and lit up. My eyes scan each one finally resting on the house across the street. Through sheer curtains, I see shadowy shapes of various body sizes darting around the room. My mind pushes past the weariness of travel, the heartache of leaving our Missouri place and a growling stomach to suggest that this is the adventure I’d been waiting for all my life.
My eyes focus on the ghost dance of my new neighbors, through their filmy curtains. “I hope kids my age live there." My voice sounds small on my new street and as it mingles with city noises that I am not accustom to, yet.

(The picture is of the house and me on Hamilton Street.  I thought I was alone in the picture. If you click on the photo, you might be startled by something or someone in the bottom left corner. I was.

Did you move as a child? Was it a good or bad experience? 


Elephant's Child said...

My mother her first husband and my brothers moved from the UK to Australia. I am the only member of the family born here, and their big move was my mother's last. She stayed in that first home until her death.
Dread whispers is such an evocative phrase...

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Teresa - fascinating to read ... that must have been quite an upheaval and a change from Ruralhood to suburbia. As EC says "Dread Whispers ..." a great phrase ... and that child in the corner - do you remember who he was?

That house looks quite large and comfortable ... I hope the times were happy for the family - cheers Hilary

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

My uncle worked for Caterpillar in Macon, GA! Too funny.

Another kid in the picture! That's what my kids call 'photo bombing.' :) I like the porch on that house. Did you have rocking chairs?

Mason Canyon said...

I always enjoy finding 'something' in a photo I didn't realize was there when it was taken. The house on Hamilton Street looks inviting. Looking forward to reading more stories about the move and if there were kids your age on the street.

Thoughts in Progress
and MC Book Tours

Arlee Bird said...

Beautifully written. I could relate to this in a number of ways. We made a few moves when I was a kid and I was always excited about them. I didn't totally want to move in each case, but I accepted it and always looked at each move as a new adventure of discovery and adaptation.

Moving now is something I kind of look forward to if it means moving to the right place for me.

Arlee Bird
Tossing It Out

Pat Hatt said...

Moving sure can be an adventure indeed. Glad I always have had running water. You got photobombed there haha

shelly said...

Mom was never happy staying in one place. She liked being married to a Navy man. But my step dad retired after 6 years of service. Before I reached 11, we had actually moved 12 times. Two times in one year when I was about 6.

Love your memory.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

There's another kid in the photo.
I was a military brat and we moved all the time. Tough making new friends all the time but it was an adventure.

cleemckenzie said...

Move was my middle name when I was a kid, so I can relate to this. Loved reading it and loved seeing the surprise image of what looks like a woman in your picture.

JoJo said...

What a great story and a huge change for you too. I didn't move when I was a kid, only when I turned 24, I moved to the west coast. I wonder who is in the bottom left of the pic?

Jemi Fraser said...

What a change! We moved when I was a baby, but I didn't move again until I got married! :)
That's kind of spooky seeing someone in the corner you didn't know what there ... I sense a story!!

Crystal Collier said...

Such a beautiful memory! I enjoyed every word. We moved when I was 9 months old and 13. I remember the second quite distinctly, but we were moving up in the world, and definitely landed in a better environment than the one we'd left behind. It's strange to me how I didn't see that old neighborhood for being an emotionally unhealthy experience until years later when I had moved away.