down the street from my cousins' house I remember four houses
distinctly. one a couple down to the right and three directly in
front, because they live on the connection of three ohio neighborhood
streets. the one to the right was owned by people I've never met, they
were on vacation. we swam in their pool almost every day. we walked
back at sundown in the street covered in towels, gravel biting our
little feet, warm and fufilled like a fresh made pot of coffee,
sunburned but our skin didn't care. I learned to jump that week from
the diving board, something that I thought I'd never love but now I
crave it sometimes. I remember one time when we all sat at the kitchen
table after swimming in that stranger's pool all day and laughed until
we thought we'd die at a story my aunt told about my cousin answering
questions in his sleep. I had her old cheerleading uniform on from her
highshool days. the house on the other corner scared me like mystery
noises late at night. I never saw a living face come in or out of
there, and they had the length of grass that is certainly not allowed
on quiet pretty suburban streets. they had a fat golden retriever they
kept outside on a chain that smelled one hundred and ten percent of
skunk. I felt so sorry for it with all my soul. I wanted to cut off my
nose and run and hold it and love it properly like dogs should be
loved because no one else wanted to and that absolutely killed me.
past that stood what I remember as a fairy tale house, made of stone
and shaded with grandfather trees. inside lived a beautiful olive-
skinned family who all had raven black hair and green eyes. my aunt
was friends with the mother who I think had some kind of accent, I
never met the father. there was a little boy and his baby sister who I
fell asleep with in my aunt's hammock one afternoon babysitting. I
loved that baby, I wanted to hold it all the time. their living room
had a big black piano, a dark brown leather couch, and a big dark
fireplace that looked, like it could've belonged to a witch. the
spirit of summer trees felt like it was soaked up into that room via
the open cottage windows. I went up into the little boy's room one
day. it had one of those curved ceilings that I've always longed for
and he showed me all of his castle toys and his pokemon cards. chicken
nuggets seemed like the only thing ever consumed in their kitchen
besides baby milk. the baby's room was yellow and beautiful. it makes
me want to cry to remember how absolutely perfect it was. in the
backyard they had an inclosed trampoline that we layed on at night
even though it was a little damp. the house next to that was bigger
and light colored, like something you'd see in the italian
countryside. the boy there was named cruise and I had butterflies in
my tummy for him. we would play war video games in their florida room
off the back, the ceiling of which seemed to be able to reach right up
to god. they had a red patio with nothing on it. I remember always
being barefoot. they invited us over to have dinner one time, cruise's
father was old, rich and foreign looking, and his mother was young,
rich and foreign looking, all with dark hair again. his dad grilled
mini burgers for the four of us kids, and fancy dishes of haddock or
something for his beautiful wife and himself. we sat at the kitchen
stools, which were all curvy ironwork and red velvet cushions. we were
afraid to talk. they had mood lights set real warm and low in there,
and old stone tiles everywhere that were very real and not just
something anyone could find at home depot. in their living room they
had high huge windows and big white furniture that I was terrified to
sit on. I don't remember if I ever got to see cruise's room.
I'm going back to that neighborhood for the first time since these
memories soon (40 days) and I hope that it'll be how I remember it.