Friday, March 21, 2014

First House

Our first house was a tiny war-time stand alone bungalow. I was four when we moved away from it so my memories of that house are early and substantiated. The piano we found in the house had to stay there as we couldn't get it out for some reason. The neighbours kids, two robust and crude Italian children turned over our toy box and started stepping on our toys. The vague muddy area under the back balcony. The wooden steps leading to the basement where there lived giant rats. I fell down those steps. The floor there was damp. I associate the basement with our wooden blocks but I can't see how we were playing down there. Don't grind your plasticine into the tiny teeth of your multi-fix blocks. You ruin them both that way. Sitting on the floor of the kitchen with a bowl of cut up meat and saying chi-chi, the word for cut-up meat.
    My parents lived with friends. The house was full of people. One winter the snow was so high it almost touched the roof and our family friend Kostaki played with us outside, pushing us around in a wooden barrel.
    Our uncle Iraklis lived with us and plastered his bedroom with our drawings. Up to the ceiling. My brother is a year and four months older so they were mostly his drawings. We drew everywhere. On our parents wedding album, on the backs of coasters, on the bottom of the decorative sea-shell encrusted matchbox and matching cigarette holder.
    We drew monsters. Essentially any kind of creature festooned with claws and horns and fangs. Wide open mouths. Spikes just everywhere. It was here in this house that I remember explaining a drawing for the first time. It must have been my uncle who asked what it was. I clearly remember answering without any hesitation, 'a hippopotamus that lives in quicksand'.
    Our next house was the site of my F-word dance and we only stayed there for a year. Duko the dog put my hand in his slobbery friendly mouth and I cried on the lawn out front. The house after that was our house for the rest of the time we were kids and teenagers. Next to the park with the train tracks off the backyard. Red and white. It wasn't our first first house but it was the only one we ever really knew.