A Snippet of Memory, and a Secret
I’m going to tell you a secret, so it will no longer be a secret and I can stop being such a big chicken about it.
Here I am, writing about getting things out in the open and illuminated and I’ve got this one shoved down deep in dark places for fear that if it sees the light, the whole thing will burst into flames.
And perhaps it will. Here we go… I am working on…a manuscript. Yes, I am. *gasp*
As such, I am delving deep, friends, deep into my past and my history and my roots and what made me as I am and how I got here and all that big and scary stuff.
And with it, I’m remembering oh, so many things. So for today, I thought I’d share this little snippet of a memory. Be sure to tell me what you think!
Just off the kitchen, the Living Room smelled faintly of homemade lasagna or enchilada pie. Apples and cinnamon. Peanut brittle.
Our Living Room was more like a parlor, reserved for special occasions and guests.
The furniture was lovely, but stern. The dark, brocade sofa glossy and stiff, with grimly carved feet and tufted cushions. The only times I ever sat upon those pompous, stuffy cushions was on holidays, when family was in town, or guests visiting.
The drapes were cream and gold, tied back with glossy, heavy cords, and I loved hiding beneath the white sheers that filtered the light coming in through the Dogwood trees in the front yard. Her favorite chair was a winged-back – gold again, cream, and dark pink. We pushed its’ ottoman against the window for portraits – a static studio to record the progress of a growing family. Primly, we would sit side-by-side, my brother and I, posing for pictures in our dress-up clothes. Bobby, in his sweater and tie, and me, in taffeta and tights.
The end tables, ornately carved to match the couch, were filled with my great-grandmother’s china teacups. Dozens there were, at one time, each a treasure she brought home from exotic, far-off places like Israel and Crete.
The piano stood against one wall, and there we pounded away, mutilating Mozart and Bach. There was no television in this room – that was downstairs. This was the place for food and conversation. Family gatherings and parties. When guests would come, they were welcomed in this room first. Here the best recipes from The New Cook Book were served as we caught up and laughed. Where my grandfather brought his new bride, and there they canoodled like teenagers in the fading light. Her smile, so gentle.
At Christmastime, we used the room the most. The Christmas tree was always in the Living Room. We would listen to Frank and Johnny and Dean while we decorated, drinking spiced cider and nibbling frosted, spicy Lebkuchen and shortbread. It was there my brother and I were cuddled for stories on Christmas Eve, and there we would gather around the fascinating, spinning German candelabra, while Dad read the Nativity story from the Bible. Early Christmas morning, I would creep from my bedroom down the dark hall in to the Living Room. Without my glasses, the space glittered with the mystery and magic of Christmas. The lights of the tree glinting off metallic ribbon and heaps of gifts hiding beneath the tree, spilling from under the coffee table and chairs.
The Living Room was soaked in happy memories. Laughter saturated the upholstery. That stiff couch, the site of joyous reunions and tearful goodbyes. Those over-stuffed chairs, were they able, could play back a thousand bedtime stories and nighttime prayers.
Sanctified and set aside for what was most important: living.
Embroidered pictures of Queen Anne’s Lace on green taffeta hung in oval frames on the wall, next to heavy gold candle sconces she found at an estate auction out in the country. Simple ornaments accented the table tops. China birds in flight on a crocheted bit of lace. The crystal chandelier flickered rainbows across the carpet on sunny days.
Always bright, always spotless, just as my childhood had been.
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