Today’s Writing 101 Challenge is to write about setting which is something I am not good at! Here is my attempt.
It should have been exciting to move into our first house but all I could think about was getting everything done. We still had to unload the truck, unpack the boxes, call the cable and phone companies, and get the builder to finish the plumbing. We might never be done. It wasn’t even lunch time but I was exhausted. My husband asked me to guide him as he backed the truck up to the garage so I hopped out and stood near the back of the truck. The driveway wasn’t even poured yet so I made my way through the muddy gravel. I looked around and it didn’t look like any of the other houses in our cul-de-sac were completed yet. There were construction trucks everywhere. I wondered when we would get our first flat tire.
Luckily for us it wasn’t raining, which was rare for the end of June. I signaled to my husband to back up, keeping an eye on the back of the truck and the garage door. The stupid garage door that the builder forced us to paint red. It stood out like a bloody canvas against the off-white house. I liked the red trim but a red garage door? It seemed ridiculous. He kept backing up until we both heard a crunching sound. What was it? I looked down: nothing. I looked up and saw the house crumpled above the garage door. I am a complete idiot. I never thought about the top of the truck. Now our brand new house was ruined and it was all my fault. My husband looked at me, probably wondering if I could be any dumber, but he just turned the truck off and hopped out. “We’ll get it fixed,” he said. There was work to be done so we opened the garage door and saw the empty space inside. At least the garage had a poured concrete floor. It looked like so much space but I knew we would fill it up quickly.
We started moving boxes into the entryway and kitchen. Everything looked so clean: the kitchen, the living room, the dining room. It was all empty, void of life and laughter. The linoleum was shining as it was hit with the morning sun. I loved those big windows that looked out past the edge of the city into the prairie. I looked forward to watching a thunderstorm from inside but not today; there could be no rain today. The dining room wasn’t really a dining room yet, just a space with linoleum floor and a chandelier. I didn’t really care about any of it outside of the kitchen. I loved the blue countertops and the maple cabinets. We chose them from the showhome and they were perfect. I looked at all the boxes and wished I could start cooking right away. The little family room looked so odd being empty; it was the only space on the main floor that was carpeted. Unless you count the stairs I guess; I had insisted on carpeted stairs. I had insisted on no triangular stairs either, ours turned at 90 degree angles because I figured I would fall if they curved. I sat down and started emptying boxes while my husband did the hard work and brought everything in to the house.
Twenty years later I still miss those maple cabinets and blue countertops. We would feed our baby in that dining room for the first time. I labored in that house. Our son peed all over that house. We laid him down on what would have been a fireplace (if we could have afforded it) and let him get some sun to eliminate his jaundice. My husband would build a big deck off the back that looked out over a weedy park and the back of Canadian Tire. I don’t miss that yard; the slope was immense and nothing would grow, it was so dry. I somehow miss the train though, even though it woke me in the middle of the night. There was something secure about having a train enter the city behind your house, seeing it come through each day. There was comfort in the routine and watching the cars. When we were sick and overwhelmed, it was good to see that life went on outside. Every memory of that house is related to our first baby because I was just pregnant when we moved in. I remember our huge master bedroom with a walk-in closet and big bathroom where I threw up every morning at 5:20 before I got ready for work. I remember the evening heat in our son’s west-facing bedroom. I remember when the crunched garage got fixed by an awesome superintendent who felt sorry for my stupidity. And I remember dropping a big bowl of cooked pudding on to the floor where it sprayed everywhere, including on my son who was busy rocking his Little Tikes rocker motorcycle. And I remember crying over spilling a box of cereal because that $5 was too precious to waste.
The undeveloped basement was our first connection to the online world. It housed our computer, hard wired into the phone line, where we got very slow and squawking dial-up service. I don’t miss the driving though; I don’t miss it taking me half an hour to drive to the mall that we now walk to. And I don’t miss navigating the road down the hill to our cul-de-sac in the winter where tracks created only a single lane for both directions to try to get through. And I don’t miss our crazy neighbours who probably had a grow-op. It was the perfect place for us to live at the time and although I miss parts of it, I am perfectly content where we are and I’m not ready to move on just yet.