Tuesday, January 21, 2014

the yellow house.

The place had an almost religious feel to it, although I, at the time, did not know why.
It could have been that I was never allowed inside?
Always kept outside waiting in the car with my father while the women of the house went in.
Maybe it was the fact that my mother and her mother, even my aunt when she was privy to attending, got dressed up in clothes that were more suited for visiting relatives on Sunday than going to the market.

It would be years before I would be told its secret. At my young age it was merely a house, a yellow two story, the entrance to the second story was in the back, and its stairs led up the side of the building. The matriarchal leaders of my family climbed those steps each time and vanished inside, leaving the ignorant males alone in a car to wait.

After the ladies went on their way, I would move up to the front seat of the behemoth 76’ Mercury Montego Wagon. The seats were green leather and the size of my bed. My dad would let me sit on his lap, I would pretend to drive; my brother would stay in the back confined to a car seat.

With me at the wheel, we would be driving to non-existent places, until my brother got restless, then he would take the seat of honor.   
I remember one particular time, it was spring, and the sun was beginning its descent behind the neighborhood houses. We waited outside the car, me on the enormous hood, my brother in my father’s arms.

The car was parked underneath a giant elm, its branches tumbling down, caressing the roof of the monster. The heat generated from the engine felt good and comforting, the air cool and new. The sunlight came trickling through the branches and played with us for awhile; the new leaves beginning their rebirth.
I remember asking my dad who was it that lived in the yellow house, why did we return here so many times? He didn’t answer my question and suggested we go for a walk while we waited.

This house became an omnipresent artifact to my childhood. The place kept its stories to itself and hinted at something greater. People would walk up those same steps as my mom and grandmother, and people would leave. They were all of them mothers and grandmothers of other families, all of them with secrets.
I was never able to discern a pattern to our visits to the yellow house. I knew when my mother got dressed up after work and my grandmother put away her usual housecoat and sandals for a skirt and shiny shoes that we were going. I would always take some toys to help pass the time, although I never played with them when we got there.

The trip to the yellow house became a time to be with my father. He was a man that had his own secrets and hid them in work, at the job, on housework, in the garage. Distant and apart from everything that made up my life. Here was a time when he was made human and capable of laughter and attentive compassion.
Always when the women returned, they came with hushed conversations, whispers between the adults. Within the yellow house, they had learned more than what was known before they went in, and always it was sacred and profound.