A rental on West Park Street

When I was twelve, I lived in a rental house. Our plans to update the kitchen had turned briefly into a kitchen and bathroom renovation before morphing into a complete house remodel. Since our real home was stripped down to the studs, my family was forced to relocate for about a year.

It wasn’t terrible. It was weird, though, having to worry about not changing things. No customizing here —  like the ideal public bathroom, we would leave it cleaner than we found it.

My bedroom walls were red. Not bright, R: 255 G: 0 B: 0 red, more like a deep red wine, burgundy color. It was cool for the first week, but the dark walls made for a dark atmosphere. I don’t actually remember anything about the room, because I never spent any time in it. All the fun happened out of doors.

In the back-back yard — there were two, sort of — there was a huge grassy space with an enormous tree at the back fence. Up the fifty foot ladder, up the rungs built into the tree, and I could just reach the plastic green handles of the zip line. I flew. Past the tree branches, past the mini apple orchard, and straight at the shed, painted red with white accents to look like a barn. The house owners had kindly left a big piece of plyboard leaning there so I could slam my feet into it before I crashed into the shed.

One time, I forgot to prop the board back up before I jumped.

At that point, it was a little late to do anything about it. I had about five seconds to feel terrified before I got split in half. My whole body crashed into the corner of the shed, the line where the two walls came together slamming into my crotch. OUCH. Less of an ouch than it could have been, perhaps, but believe me, guys, it hurts the ladies too.

I might have given my cat a ride on the zip line once. Don’t worry, she was securely fastened in a specially made basket. (Okay, if you freak out now, I won’t blame you.) BUT I never let go of the basket, just slid it back and forth a little along a short length of cable. I thought Meese would love making like a bird and flying, but her yowls soon convinced me otherwise and I took her down. (And yes, I agree that my twelve-year-old self was a poor judge of my cat’s preferences.)

Accidents and shenanigans aside, even though the zip line was awesome, it inevitably lost its magic over time. Luckily, Monkey came along just when I was getting bored with the back-back yard.

I always met him at the pond, in the first back yard — the one with the whitewashed patio, nicely manicured lawn, and slate stone steps. It was a decorative pond, full of waterlilies and koi fish. The first time, I thought it was a chance encounter — just another red dragonfly buzzing around.


Get the name, now? C’mon, use your twelve-year-old imagination: see the big eyes and nose? Photo from http://hottoginthecity.blogspot.com/

After seeing him for three days straight, though, I was convinced. It was the same dragonfly, and he was my friend. I christened him “Monkey,” because obviously that’s what a red dragonfly’s face looks like up close. You only know that if you’ve been close — and Monkey let me close enough to stroke his back. We were buds, and I visited him every day for weeks before he disappeared.

I still think about him sometimes. I even painted a picture of him. He turned out a little more abstract that I would have liked, but hey, younger me could only do so much with paint.

acrylic on canvas, by me

acrylic on canvas, by me

Writing 101, Day 11: Today, tell us about the home you lived in when you were twelve. For your twist, pay attention to — and vary — your sentence lengths.


11 thoughts on “A rental on West Park Street

  1. I loved this. You made me see it, feel it, and want to be there 🙂

    I wasn’t particularly bothered by the twist today (referring to your question on The Commons) but I did think it was kind of odd that apparently some of us tend to write in very short sentences ALL the time. I have read “advice to writers” type things that encourage brevity. I can understand that, but not at the risk of variety and the natural flow of words.

    • Thanks! Glad to hear it.

      I’ve noticed problems with sentence length mostly (1) in beginning writers or English learners who feel insecure venturing beyond short sentences, and (2) in essays and such, where the writer falls into a rut and uses the same type of sentence every time.

      I think it can be less of a problem in fiction and creative writing, where a story lends itself to variation.

  2. Must have been real friendship, you even painted him and pretty good as well!
    When I was about eight, I had a spider as a friend, but it only lasted a few hours, so our bond was way less strong than yours must have been 😉

    • Thank you so much! I definitely had a great time reliving part of my childhood as I wrote this. I should write more of them — like the time I decided to try out the owners’ bike jumps (with disastrous results) 🙂

      • Oh bike jumps! I spent last winter youtubing MANY videos of bike jumping. Sigh. I have the desire to try but not the age or the unbroken body any longer. 😉

        Please do write more of these.

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