20 February 2009

Q: What one person, thing, moment, or place do you wish you had a photo of?

A: I’m fortunate to have some old family photos, photos from my childhood, and plenty of more recent family photos. But the one thing I’m missing and wish I had is a photo of my first home.

When my twin brother and I (aka Antithesis and Thesis, respectively) were born, my parents had bought their first home, in Carteret, New Jersey, but we only lived there until we were about 4 years old. I remember it, but mostly my memories are pretty vague. I remember that there was no cellar, but there was a half-finished attic and it must have had stairs because I remember being up there with my mom and my brother occasionally. I remember there were three bedrooms, and a back yard. It seems that it was huge, but then, I was very little, so who knows?

But what I remember most, oddly enough, are my brother’s and my little nighttime antics when we were still in cribs. Apparently, my brother figured out at an early age how to climb out of his crib at night, which he did. This drove my mother nuts with worry, and finally she talked to our doctor about it. He said all she could do was pile blankets under Antithesis’s crib so he wouldn’t hurt himself if he fell. Guess that was all she could do, since he kept climbing. Every night. Once he’d escaped his crib, he would just go and sleep in the hallway. Why? Who knows—he’s always been a bit of a free spirit—I don’t call him Antithesis for nothing! Eventually, I followed his lead and starting doing my own nocturnal escape acts. But the hallway wasn’t my destination.

We had a guest bedroom, which my mom called the “spare room,” and which I now realize was meant to be a bedroom for my brother or me when we got older—we shared one room from infanthood until we moved. But I remember the spare room most because after climbing out of my crib I would go in there to sleep on the freshly folded towels that my mother invariably left in there, since, as she once told me, the house had no linen closet. I guess she must have left them on the bed, which must have been low enough for me to climb onto (what little monkeys Antithesis and I must have been!) I don’t really remember those details very clearly. I mainly remember that I liked the texture of the terrycloth towels against my skin, and that’s why I liked sleeping there. (Wouldn’t you think my mom would’ve figured this out and just tried putting a towel in my crib?)

I remember a few other things from that first home: playing with my brother in the living room, in the yard, in the attic. Our miniature dinette set that looked for all the world like my mom and dad’s big dinette, with the same wrought iron frames and upholstered vinyl seats. My dad coming home from his navy deployments; sitting on his lap while he tried to teach me to spell my name. But I mostly remember the feel of that soft terrycloth against my face as I drifted off to sleep in that big spare bed.

Yes, I sure do wish I had a photo or two of that place.

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