Thursday, May 28, 2009

It's the place I always imagine in my head when a book's setting is an apartment. The tiny one-bedroom apartment has housed so many dear characters, probably because of the dear people who originally inhabited #49.

I went to visit my Dad today. Amy and I ended up making a morning of it, dropping off some of our gorgeous purple iris at our grandparent's grave. I was so excited earlier this spring when I saw how many iris I was going to have. I knew exactly what I wanted to do with them. Because my grandma loved purple, and loved iris, and there were some ready-made, seemingly aching to be transported to the small cemetary plot by the mountains.

Our route to see Dad took us by the street that Grandma and Grandpa lived on. I found myself passing it, but thought better of it and turned on the next street and headed toward that small apartment that has so often come to me while reading.

They say the places you visit from your childhood always seem smaller. It was. I almost missed the driveway to the apartments. I took a brief look at the gutter where I spent so many hours as a girl building dams to trap the spring run-off that came down the street. And suddenly I was looking at the door of #49. Painted a hopeful red to match the roof, it looked both so familiar and so anonymous. Amy and I sat and talked about the flowers that Grandpa had planted during his time as the manager of the apartments. A beautiful orange rose was sitting by the entrance to the stairway. Could it be one that our dear Grandpa planted, his gnarled fingers gently pressing the soil into place? Where were the sweet william and iris that had been planted by Grandma? Were any of their decendants still multiplying somewhere on the property?

I could almost smell them: Grandma's cold cream and lotion trailing up the stairs, Grandpa's haze of smoke and aftershave wafting through the parking lot. I missed them so much at that moment, wishing that I could hug them just once more, tell them that I love them and miss them. They've been gone long enough that their memories are mostly a vague idea of love and cigarette smoke and already-been-chewed gum stuck furtively under a table. But that love is still so real.

I don't know what made me turn onto that street today. But it seemed fitting to visit the place where they were alive to me so soon after honoring their memory at their final resting place. But if I could, if I really had wanted to honor them, me and Amy's iris, roses, columbine, and late yellow tulips would have been placed at the door of #49. That is the place that houses my memories. That is the place where I loved them, and they loved me, their last grandchild, the fifth of all those girls. The place I so often revisit in my mind without any effort. #49.

I miss you Grandma. I miss you Grandpa. Wait for me.


Amy Sorensen said...

I haven't put it into words yet, but was a great morning. Which is sort of odd to say about hanging out in a rest home, but, well, you know. I'm so glad you went by the apartments. I almost suggested that we just go knock on the door and see if they would let us in, but I didn't want to have my memories confused. I want to remember the apartment with the velvet couch, and the yellow Formica table, and grandpa's desk in the bedroom. Not someone else's stuff.

Anyway...great post. I miss them too.

heidikins said...

This is so sweet, what a fantastic post.