Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Silent Pictures

A few weeks ago I went to Parkersburg, West Virginia - my hometown. It's the first time I'd been there in ages. The town has been changing with a new freeway cutting through many of the once picturesque hills. The same space that hid a cave my best friends and I spray-painted graffiti all over now has traffic passing through at 55 mph. An even bigger change, Grandma had moved from her 3 bedroom house on the hill, with the cedar, beech, and spruce trees - the house she shared with Grandpa for many years before his death - the house my uncle, aunts, and mom spent their teenage years, the house I had many of my first life experiences. The yellow house. It was no longer yellow as storm damage required it to have new siding, but in my mind it's still yellow. In my mind, there are still 3 giant white pine trees in the backyard calling to us to climb them. In my mind, the yard is still covered in clover, the aspen tree still quakes in the breeze. The utility building still sits in the yard locked by MY lock that Grandpa bought from me when I was six for a few dollars. The backyard still has a single iris near the porch and many ferns line up in the shade by the house.

And Grandpa.

Grandpa...still sits in his chair....in front of the TV.....smoking his pipe.....vanilla and tobacco fill the room leaving swirls of smoke as he exhales. The sunlight casts its beam on the green sculpted shag carpet. The back room is a playroom that my cousins and I clean and rearrange each weekend. It becomes our office, our mansion, our shack, our store, our school. Through the door I hear Grandpa's pipe clanging against the ashtray. Grandma's slippers scuff on the floor as she walks to and fro in the kitchen making, as she contracts it, "spag-et" (spaghetti). Things remain the same. In My Mind......

The aspen tree out front died a year after Grandpa. It was his favorite tree. Grandma moved to the 7th floor of a modern apartment building downtown. She has a view of the Ohio River and the riverboat/barge traffic lulling by with their cargoes of chemicals and coal. She counts them passing, observing the flocks of birds gathering on the Belpre Bridge as sun sets through a partly cloudy sky. 15 barges passed. Grandma and I go to get snacks from the vending machine before the pizza comes. Her slippers scuff on the floor as we walk down the hall to the elevator. We laugh as one falls off and is almost left on the other side of the closing elevator door. On the way down to the first floor, Grandma recalls that Grandpa worked on the riverboats. I imagine each passing boat reminds her of him - Silent pictures in her mind as the boats pass in silence also.

5 Comments:

Blogger The Muse said...

I know that you warned me about reading this today. I couldn't help myself. It was beautiful, my dear. Thank you.

4/26/2006 3:23 PM  
Blogger SirTalksALot said...

the muse - thank you for reading it, I figured you may appreciate it most, as our emails really brought a lot of memories back for me.

4/27/2006 12:27 PM  
Blogger allison said...

I wake up in the morning having remembered my dreams and so often they took place in my grandma's house, where I spent half my life growing up. It is THAT vivid for me, too.

4/27/2006 7:26 PM  
Blogger Lindsey said...

Well look at you with the beautiful prose! ;o)

4/27/2006 7:58 PM  
Blogger Mr.Brian/Mr.Fletcher said...

ah....the storytelling of youth!

8/25/2006 6:20 PM  

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