At 12 we moved from the “big city” of Flint, MI to a small town nearby. Our new quad-level was considerably larger than the house we’d had in Flint and my dad, who came from a pretty poor family, was so proud. Although I’d rarely played the game, I was for some reason thrilled that our garage had a basketball net. I’m so not an athlete — hard to imagine what went on in my 11-year-old brain when we were choosing among a few houses but the basketball net factored into my vote for this.
Flint was still “Buicktown” and really at its peak. Most of the dads in our little town drove the gently curving road along the river to work at Buick or something auto-related , whether in the main office–like my dad– or the factories. In those days, Chevy, Ford, Fisher Body, and AC Spark Plugs all had shops there producing parts of and for cars.
We loved our new house but we all leaned toward the cool color palette and almost every room in the place glowed bright yellow. Initially that drove us nuts. My mother redecorated with gusto for the first months. All the yellow went first. Dad learned to cope with a much longer commute. I tried to adjust to my new life.
I’d become shy and withdrawn in sixth grade. Having gone to school with lots of the same kids from kindergarten on, this new, introverted me, struggled with being thrust into a new school. But I loved our split-level; loved escaping back into the fold and just enjoying the new house without all the scary kids around. My dad could read the paper in the living room and I could hang out down a level n the family room watching TV and Mom could sit in the dining area off the kitchen writing a letter. Except for Thanksgiving and a few other special occasions, the formal dining room sat empty. I’m puzzled by the penchant for “open floor plan” homes in which everybody is stuck in the same space as everyone else all the time.
That love of having lots of space has stayed with me. I lived in plenty of tiny apartments and I could adapt. But when I owned a three bedroom house, I turned one first-floor bedroom into a sitting room and another into a dining room. Upstairs a big loft area made a great yoga space right outside my bedroom. I used every room. I might sit and read for a while in the sitting room, then watch TV in the living room. Or write a brief at the dining room table before practicing yoga in the loft space. Only had two levels though. There’s something about a house with four…
This piece is for day 11 of the writing 101 series–tell about the home you lived in at 12. I’m still struggling with a lot of these prompts so expect me to keep on skipping among them and throwing other stuff in.