Every room was a little sanctuary,
someplace I could live in forever and be
Perfectly Happy.
And the weeks over were the best.
They loved to watch me; I loved to be watched-
giving ridiculous speeches on the pollution in the world and
singing songs like I was Barbra Streisand that they thought were
so endearing-
giving plays, running back and forth to be everyone at once,
though sometimes the dolls were used (ventriloquism, however, was not my forte)
and I wonder how I did that, with no shame, so free.
Grandma didn't have room in her bed, but Great-Grandma did, so I slept sometimes
in her smooth, cool, pink sheets- with her lying beside me and I wasn't ever sure
that she really fell asleep. She just lay there, breathing steadily, as I
tossed and
turned and tried to find a place to
squishinto- that warm little place of comfort. Trying to find their house in her bed-
like a hug from someone who is your matriarch.
Mornings they woke up first, because they never needed as much sleep as a ten year old.
The wood floors creaked (and wood floors are nostalgic for me now, just because of that) as I
would gently wander into the small kitchen, where we'd sit at the table
(which was covered in a plastic tablecloth with some sort of
pattern on it that made me
think of the south)
and there would be some sort of cereal and a banana, with the milk ready and juice and a bowl of grapes
there in the middle to share.
Mornings were beautiful.
And the rest of the family would come over and we'd get out the old wooden ladders
and pick the oranges
and my cousins and I would pick the honeysuckle and drink the tiny drops of sweet juice,
collecting as much as we could in our tiny mouths until there was enough to satisfy
or at least until one of us swallowed an ant.
Then we went out to IHOP for dinner were everyone knew Susan and Myrtle and loved to see how
the grandkids and great-grandkids were doing.
All of us kids were doing just fine as we gazed greedily at the chocolate chip funny face pancake
with a whipped cream smile and cherries for eyes.
We ate till we were sick and I would lay my head down on my mother's lap, right there in the booth,
all curled up and closed my eyes and listened to the sound of a busy restaurant and
laughing conversations and there was something about everyone's familiar voices that made
my heart smile.
We drove home in the dark after goodbyes and hugs and sturdy grandma Susan laughs and delicate great-grandma Myrtle smiles and I believed that it was the most lovely thing on earth.

And now delicate Myrtle has died and Susan's sole company is a chihuahua named Ginger and there are
financial arguments among the children about the house and I know,
I know so well, that I can never go back. All I have is memories of the rooms and beds and
mornings and breakfast and plays and songs and Lawrence Welk and crayons and books and a big stuffed panda bear and IHOP and the sounds, the sounds, the sounds.

I know so well that I can't go back.

But all that I want is to step inside and see the bowl of Bugles on the table and get a soda from the retro fridge and look inside the old stove to see if there were new cookies.
All I want is to check in the bathroom for new lotion and Avon perfume samples and there were always those soaps, so dusty, on the toilet. I wonder why no one ever dusted them,
but it would be rather odd to be dusting soap.
All I want is dance for them one more time and do that trick that impressed them so where I could
Leap Up!
from the ground onto my feet and I hope, I hope, I hope,
that someday when I am the matriarch,
I will have a granddaughter who loves my wrinkles and feathering lipstick
and watches old TV shows with me and dances and sings for me.

I know so well that I can't go back. But perhaps I can make my past into my future.
It would never, it could never be the same. But this little girl wants to be Myrtle. This little girl
doesn't want to die and leave
everyone to fend for themselves.
We were falling apart anyway, but when she left, that was the last straw.

I know so well that I can't go back. I don't want to know that.

This little girl wants completion.
This little girl wants it all.