Walking in through the solid wood door, you entered into a small, dark hallway. The only light came from a frosted glass panel beside the wooden door m. On my left was a solid wood door, painted over white, that led into a small sitting room. At different times, there had been a sofa or two but for a few years before we left my dad had decided to buy 2 garden seats, wooden, to put in. My grandmas sofa had been there previously but I guess it was thrown out. I don’t remember why or when. I remember feeling embarrassed that we had garden furniture instead of real furniture. It wasn’t comfortable. My dad fancied himself a kind of DIY guy. Trurh be told, he had some good ideas but he wasn’t good at following through. Evidence of that was on the wall, a crudely put together wooden bookshelf, hanging unpainted on the wall. He also put in a counter top, the kind you’d usually see in a kitchen, under it. It was a great place for more junk to be piled.
The fireplace was redbrick, small and pokey. The small hearth was infamous for being the cause of an accident when I was younger. I tripped and fell and supposedly cracked my head, needing stitches. I always feel sad when I think of my younger self. I’m not sure if it’s real or just what I’ve pieced together from things said. I feel younger me was on my own a bit, trying to be small and not cause a fuss. Sorry for being alive, because I shouldn’t even be here.
There seemed to always be clutter on the fireplace too, some random photos and sometimes some figurines. My mom has always liked buying China kind figurines and there seemed to always be some on top. I especially liked when there was a fire on , just standing in front of the fireplace.
There was a silver stereo in the sitting room. I liked being there on my own, especially late at night when no one was around, just listening to the radio and dancing when by myself. I also liked to sit and write if a fire was on. The corner to the left of the fireplace was a small enclave that didn’t match the rest of the rooms decor, the wallpaper and paint not reaching there. Seemed to sum up everything else in the house, never fully finished; just given up, leave it as it is. There was one rectangular shaped window with a thick white net curtain, we used to look out when we were not supposed to open the door. People knocking at the door often meant us pretending we weren’t home, or at least waiting until the person went to leave so we could check who it was. It just seemed to be the way it was.
Coming out of the sitting room, I turn left to head into the kitchen. On my right, before entering the kitchen, was under the stairs… a place of shame in full sight. There was always a lot of stuff through in there. When I try to conjure up images of what’s in there, I can’t, it just all blurs into one big undefined mass of junk. The light timber frame acted as a kind of make-shift door. Only it didn’t close, it didn’t hide anything. Thinking about it and who might have seen that mess, and what they must have thought gives me anxiety, even now.
I enter into the kitchen. Right in front of me is part of the cabinet dad made. Unfortunately he wasn’t a cabinet maker. I remember crude bits of wood out together. To be fair to him, I think he did as best he could. But I also wonder why he was always taking on these ambitious projects, especially when none of them got finished. There is a thick granite (I think) counter top and it runs towards the sink. We must have got a bit of money because dad also bought a dishwasher at the same time as doing this “remodel” I seem to remember a washing machine bought at the same time. I remember being excited about dads plans. But they never materialized. Just like everything, it was left unfinished, incomplete. I feel frustrated even now, thinking about that.
The washing machine and dishwasher didn’t last long. They both stopped working. I don’t think it was the same time , but most have been. I guess perhaps because my dad moved the kitchen sink to a different place, which would have involved plumbing and, he not being a plumber, perhaps something stopped working. What ever the reason, the Dishwasher wasn’t useable. The sink dripped too. Under it was a kind of crude wooden support, kind of like the sort you might see in a roadside kitchen. Except it was our house. I feel sorry for my dad, writing this. I guess he was trying to break out of our way of living. But I’m also frustrated, why did he have to do so in such an overly complicated way, and in a way that made things worse.
The rest of the kitchen.. there were two windows, again, there were thick white net curtains. We did have a stove fireplace. The rare times that was lit , the house felt good, it was the kind of stove that made the whole house feel warm and alive.
The kitchen also had a hot press, a small kind of closet with a door and shelves where the hot water tank was and where people could keep their towels and bed clothes etc. I remember feeling envious of other people when I opened theirs, no clothes fell out, theirs was orderly and the smell of clean fresh linen. I don’t remember ever having that smell when I was younger-clean linen. There never seemed to be clean towels, especially the couple of years we didn’t have a washing machine. I remember using a bed sheet to dry myself , when I wanted to clean myself.
That hot press was another reason to feel shame, if you opened it, a cascade of clothes fell on you and it wasn’t easy to push them back in and get the door to successfully close. I feel sad looking around here, it’s supposed to be the hub of activity but it never felt like that. It wasn’t somewhere I’d find my mum or my family. I feel so alone thinking of me then, no one was there to give that home feeling. I wouldn’t find dinner cooking in a pot or schedules on the fridge, I wouldn’t find notes from mum or dad, it was just a shell of a home . I feel like that, a shell. Like I never got fleshed out
I look out into the backyard. It’s a nice sized yard but neglected and overgrown. I used to imagine what it would look like if I could control it . I’m we had a small shed, no door, full of junk. There seems to always be bags and bags of rubbish waiting to be taken to the dump. We never could afford to have a regular bin , my dad said it was better and cheaper to take it ourselves to the dump. But that always seemed to be irregular. The car smelled so bad after he did it. It makes me wonder if that’s why I still do some things much later now, it’s the pattern I learned. I feel frustrated and trapped when I write about this. Why was everything made so complicated. It could have been so much simpler. There were abandoned pots and stuff in the yard. Like my mum left it soaking and just abandoned it to the wind after. I feel mad at them both; my mom and dad – why were they doing things in such a overly complicated way. I just wanted order so badly, and in every way it was so far from that.
I leave the yard to go back through the kitchen and down the short hallway to go up the stairs.
A breath in, a breath out
Memories flood in,
But nothingness comes out
It’s too tangled
To be exhaled into the outside