I remember when I was a little girl, I used to brag about my grandparents' house, describing it as a "big, red mansion", claiming it had to be "at least 5 stories high". In all reality, it is far from being a 5-story mansion, sitting at only 2 stories and a basement. But in my mind, it was a huge palace that everyone should have been jealous of. My grandparents, who have lived there for many decades, have recently moved out. As they prepare to sell it and move onto better things to suit their lives, I've been reflecting on all of the memories I hold for the big red house on Pendleton Street, and I find myself thinking of new ones I'd since forgotten.
When I think of my childhood, I remember most holidays, most family gatherings, most celebrations all being celebrated at Grandma and Grandpa's house. I think of all of the cousins I have, gathering together to play endless hours of games like Hide-and-Go Seek, Sardines, or our own made up game of Jeopardy inside, or heading out to the vast parking area to play Mother, May I?, or Red Light/Green Light. I think about how we used to all gather on the kind-of-red-kind-of-orange carpeted staircase and play Rock School, coming up with sometimes serious and sometimes silly questions to ask each other. I remember being so excited to hear that my big cousins from New Jersey would be coming down for the holiday. In my little girl mind, they were the coolest cousins of all, because they lived so far away. I knew that when those three cousins came, we would, undoubtedly, get to play "500", a game played with a football, which I, being probably only 5 or 6 years old, was horrible at. But still, I was a part of the group, which included the big cousins, the little cousins, and the in-between cousins. I remember my parents telling us at the end of a long holiday that it was time to go, and we'd all beg our parents for just a little more time. I think most get-togethers usually finished out with a game of Charades, which seemed to get sillier and sillier as the years went on. I remember playing "Stores" with my brother and my cousin, each designating ourselves as "grocery store owner" or "zookeeper", and we'd pass hours "shopping" at each others' stores in the playroom. There was a vent that connected the play room to the formal living room, and I remember sending each other out on covert missions to sneak into the living room, so that we could talk to each other through the vents. I remember dinner time at the kids' table, while the parents all sat at the adult table in the formal dining room. I remember the silly jokes passed across the table and how we were never without laughter during dinner. I remember special days when we'd somehow all end up at Grandma's for one reason or another, and we'd all be so excited to walk next door to Pete's restaurant and order hotdogs for everyone to eat at lunchtime. I remember little legs sticking to the green and blue vinyl couch that has decorated the living room since long before I was born. I remember the cozy little closet with the cozy little door that you almost had to duck to enter, filled with all kinds of treasures and trinkets from holiday decorations to beautiful glassware. I remember hiding out in the office upstairs, spying on neighbors or passersby with my cousins, dramatically jumping below the window sill the moment we thought we might have been spotted from the outside. I remember flashlight tag in the upstairs bedrooms and the rug burns we'd get on knees from chasing each other around. I remember family photos of all of my aunts and uncles, and my own mother, a glimpse into their lives before parenthood. I remember laying on the canopy bed in the guest room, thinking to myself that one day, when I was a big girl with my own house, I was going to have a bed just.like.that.
I think I could wander Grandma and Grandpa's house for hours and never really discover all of the neat little hiding spots that are surely hiding themselves. In all of the many hundreds of games of Hide-and-Go-Seek that have certainly been played within those walls, there are still probably places I could find today that were never discovered in all of those years of games.
While it is sad to think that when I drive past that house in the future, it won't be my family's anymore, I am truly excited for the new home that my Grandma and Grandpa have moved to. I feel so lucky that when I do drive past the "big, red mansion", I'll always have all of those little memories and more that I could go on for ages about, and that my childhood was influenced so much by a home with so much character inside.