Friday, June 17, 2011
I lived in this house when I was 6 years old. After we moved out my granny and uncle moved into it and lived there for several years. You can get there by taking Manson Pike to Burnt Knob Road and then take a left on Almaville Road. The house sits on the left a quarter mile or so down the road on the right after a sharp curve. The 5 rooms are in disrepair, but the memories are still there like party guests that refuse to leave.
Once there was a small iron bed in which I slept. I watched a television with fuzzy pictures. The reception was terrible in a place that seemed to be nowhere. It was almost a 20 mile drive into Murfreesboro over pothole roads. My parents insisted I attend Mitchell-Neilson Primary School so it seemed like most of my time was spent riding shotgun in a Ford Gran Torino. There was nothing much to do at the house. There were no other kids around. I recall spending lots of time hiding under a large bush that was in the front yard. I had been warned about getting near the road so when I heard a car coming in the distance I tried to reach the spot under the bush where I was invisible and safe.
My family had moved so much that I knew there would be no permanence to this place. Things would change and off we would go again to another trailer or clapboard house full of bugs. I would either have no kids to play with or the neighborhood would be filled with mean children that wanted to make fun of me or beat me up. The house was painted dull light green and there was nothing but green vegetation only broken up by limestone rocks. The most memorable things from when I actually lived there was the color green and the long car rides.
The long car rides were usually my mother and me coming home in the afternoon from Murfreesboro. There was a hill on Manson Pike that if you hit it going fast enough you'd feel like you were flying. "Gun it," I would yell! Then there was Burnt Knob Road which was filled with potholes and tar patches running up the side of the knob with the old garbage dump in its last days running along both sides. Until you got to the top with its little community church and then you descend on a section of new pavement towards Stewart's Creek, one section so smooth and straight my mother would take her hands off the wheel and let the car drive itself which never failed to get a giggle of amazement from me.
When we decided to move out, my granny and uncle moved into the house which was owned by the Davenport family who lived just a few yards down Almaville. So I'd visit often with my father. Once driving back to Murfreesboro where we had moved I remember the moon rising seen from the heights of Burnt Knob and it looked so huge it could swallow the world. But the world was not to be swallowed, but I was to be stung by a horde of angry wasps one Saturday afternoon at the Almaville house which caused me to run around and around the house in a panic....the trouble was I kept running into the wasps that hadn't bothered to chase me until my world became one welt. My uncle put tobacco juice on the stings and the horror thought of this put the pain in some sort of perspective I guess.
The defining memory stick however was one pre-dawn dew morning. I had spent the night with my granny, as I often did when small. The evening spent with the television tuned only to Channel 5 CBS....I never saw my granny watch anything but this station. She would talk back to the television too. I'd re-read the few children's books in the house and once again wonder why the small American flag she had on a stick only had 48 stars. I'd pick at the guitar in the corner that nobody knew how to play. Say my prayers with my granny and go to sleep. My mother came to get me that next day, in the pre-dawn as I wrote before.
I was wrapped in a blanket and placed in my mother's arms. As she went off the porch she missed a step and we started tumbling. Stars twirled as suddenly I was wide awake. My mother fell awkwardly to keep from dropping or landing on me. Granny got me off of my mother and my mother stood swaying to her feet. She told my granny she was ok, but we both could tell she was hurt. It wasn't anything serious, nothing broken, just heavy bruising along the side she'd fell upon.
What stands out for me was two things. She did everything in her power to keep me from getting hurt. Love with a capital L. And while doing this she also showed she could be hurt. She wasn't my perfect carefree mother driving over the roads with a twinkle in her eye. She was human. I was human. We could hurt ourselves. We would grow older and frailer like granny. This was what the pre-dawn revealed to my young eyes.
Granny and my uncle have long left this mortal coil. My mother and father will go too. Just as I will. Just as the old green house on Almaville will also. Which is why we cling to such artifacts. Which is why I snapped some pictures of the Almaville house.