Remember When
November 12, 2006

From the time I was very small, I loved getting out my baby book and flipping through the notes Mom had made, the cards people had sent, and the photos that she'd put into the book. One thing that always fascinated me was comparing what I remembered with what I saw in the baby book ... or in the photo albums. We moved so frequently between my birth and the time I started school, that I've always been amazed at just what I could remember from an early age ... although I'm certain that having all of those different locations on which to pin an age helped me to realize that those memories were from a specific age. I would guess that children who don't move so much probably pin most of their early memories at an older age ... one that seems more "rational" to our adult minds. I'm lucky, I suppose, in that I can pin those memories to an age a bit more accurately, just from where we were living at the time.

At any rate, we lived in Carmel, Indiana, for just a year. Moved there probably in December of 1972 and left probably about the same time period in 1973, or perhaps in early 1974. It was the only year we lived "up north" and despite having a very good friend who lived next door to me, it was the one place we lived (pre-kindergarten, anyway) that I hated with a passion. Dad was working for National Sherdata at the time and I can remember him taking me up to work with him one day so I could see the computer room. Yup, that was the time of the big punch card machines and I was quite fascinated with the noisy mess and how those little manila cards with their oddly-spaced holes could be so important.

Since I've been back in Indiana for the last 12 years (I only intended to be here for two, darnit), I've often thought about driving down to Carmel and trying to find the old apartment. I don't know why I'm so driven to re-connect with the many places I've lived, but I've always done that. (And, don't you know I just LOVE Google Maps for getting a bird's eye view of places today.) So, when I was able to scan pages of my baby book and photos from Mom's photo albums this summer, I was really excited to find a page which listed all of the addresses we'd lived while I was growing up.

And, when our church choir was invited to sing at our regional assembly down in Indianapolis, I knew all the stars had aligned perfectly ... and I was going to make a detour down memory lane on the way back home from it all.

The directions from MapQuest weren't very good once I got to the apartment complex ... I should have used GoogleMaps instead, because after I got home, I could see exactly what I should have done. However, MapQuest had a few details wrong, and so when I turned into the complex, I had the strangest thing happen.

My instinct was to make a left turn and then another left. MapQuest told me to turn right almost immediately, and then I'd be there. I followed directions and ignored my instinct. As it turns out, and I very vaguely remember this now that I've been there again, the complex is actually a mixed setting of "townhouses" and apartments. Some buildings have a door that leads to several apartments ... some buildings have a door for each two story "townhouse." So, I'm looking for the address, and looking at the buildings ... and I'm not surprised but I am disappointed. Looks like they've re-faced everything and remodeled into strictly apartments. I drive around where the directions said my old home was ... and other than somewhat recognizing shapes ... well, it just wasn't that familiar. Even the street names didn't match memory or MapQuest.

Since I have no one in the car with me and I'm not on any schedule, I decide to just drive around the complex for a bit and see what I can see.

Sure enough, my memory of this place where I lived for just about a year when I was four and just past when I turned five ... over 30 years ago (33 years since my fifth birthday, for those who need details comments/exciting.gif ) ... that instinct was right on the money.

The steps aren't as steep as I remember and the little "hill" up from the parking lot is also not as steep as I recall ... but I did remember the turns it would take to get to the old apartment! How weird is that?

The door on the right was to our place ... the door to the left was where my best friend, Megan, lived. I can recall, early one morning, bored because only the televangelists were on ... and not my beloved Scooby Doo, I decided that all little kids run away. And it occurred to me that I had not yet done this. I was getting old and I should do this soon. So, having no idea whatsoever how to go about running away, I merely snuck out the front door as quietly as possible ... walked down our steps ... through the grass ... up Megan's steps ... and knocked on their door. When her mom answered, I couldn't really think of anything to say except, "Can Megan play?"

Her mom tried very hard not to laugh. My hair, baby-fine and far too long for me to comb, was tangled and ratted and standing up all over the place. I was in my yellow pajamas with the odd flowers ... a nice flannel set for the cold weather. And ... as was usual for me ... I was barefoot.

"Megan's not awake yet," she said. "I think maybe you better run along back home." I nodded. I was very compliant at that age.

And thoughtful, too. I grabbed the morning paper on the way back in and left it on the kitchen table for Mom. It was supposed to be a surprise, but I forgot to lock the door when I came back in, so instead of being thankful for the paper, I was chastised for not keeping the door locked.

And, as I remembered this and other things as well, I turned the car away and prepared to drive back out of the complex. That carport! Oh my!

As we returned from shopping one day, Megan and I safely tucked in the back, my sister in her car seat between us, our Moms both in the front, someone jumped out in front of the car with a gun! He jumped out just like on TV or in the movies, legs spread wide ... he'd been hiding in the carport, just waiting for someone to hold up.

As it turned out ... it was just Chris, the evil bully of the neighborhood, with his BB pistol. My mother was horrified and actually almost as scared as I was. Megan rolled her eyes and tried to make me feel better. Megan's mother was furious. She creeped the car forward and refused to actually come to a stop, which forced Chris to either hold his ground and get run over or move out of the way. We all saw him bunch up all his leg muscles and Megan's mom yelled out the window that if he jumped on her car, there was going to be HELL to PAY! Apparently he changed his mind, and he ran back into the carport.

Ahh, gotta love that 70s decor, huh?

And those 70s outfits. Sheesh.

It was truly odd to put those memories and those physical pictures I have of the inside of that apartment together with the way the outside looks today ... which really, is not much different at all from the way it looked back in the day.

What I didn't expect was just how much clarity of memory I would have as I sat in the parking lot, snapping pictures. I didn't expect to see "movies" of events so clearly. Like in this piano picture above ... I can see Mom and I crouched at the edge of the carpet, in runner's poses ... our backs to the piano, we're facing that front door. Dad is calling out, "Get ready, get set GO!" I am positive that I am a far better runner than my mother, never mind her legs are far longer than mine and the distance we're running is short. I didn't get a chance to make the run, though. As Dad yelled, "GO!" he also reached forward and grabbed my ankle so that I landed flat on my face in the entry hall. I was hurt, I was furious. I could BEAT Mom, I could! She gloated that she'd beaten me and I kept shouting that it wasn't fair.

We set up a re-match and honestly, I think Dad was having a "Lucy moment" (from Charlie Brown ... you know, her lovely football stunt?). After the third attempt, Mom was quietly chastising a laughing Dad and I was so furious I hardly knew what to do with myself.

Amazing what tidbits our minds hold for us.

Posted by Red Monkey at November 12, 2006 2:57 PM | Storytelling: She was, of course, supposed to be sleeping. | | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble |


Red said:

Truly wonderful post ender. Good memories are special and something to hold on too. Glad you were able to add another piece to your puzzle!

November 12, 2006 2:51 PM


The Dawg Pound said:

Aw, how cute! I just want to pinch your cheeks ;)

November 12, 2006 9:47 PM


kelley said:

I wish I had the courage to knock on the door of my childhood home the next time I'm in town - I'm so curious!

I only lived in that first house until the age of 11, but - to this day - any dreams I have about my family members take place in that first house! Isn't that weird? It's like it's burned into my subconscious; that's the only place that my dreaming self knows as "home".

November 15, 2006 10:54 AM


annulla said:

Aw, the 70s decor and outfits are OK -- you look just like a long-lost Brady.

November 18, 2006 9:53 AM
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