On a brisk September evening many years ago, I remember visiting my grandmother's house on the island. Fall seemed to be peeking around the trees. The once forest green door on her front porch was chipping paint, revealing an orange rust. As I opened the door to enter, the worn-out hinges moaned a crackling tale. I felt I was witnessing the history of how many visitors, guests, and loved ones had walked through that very door.
I could hear a woman humming to a Willie Nelson song, the sound sweeping in on the fresh evening breeze. The recognizable smell of spices and herbs welcomed me into the kitchen. The vintage style furniture set a scene from another time, one from many moons ago. Walnut brown cabinets complimented the sunshine yellow walls wrapped around the cozy kitchen. Dried honeysuckle hung from the ceiling ledges giving an earthy feel. Steam rolled from a secondhand cooking pot, where Poorman's spaghetti was simmering for dinner.
Running water and pans clanking in the sink led my eyes over to a slim figure standing by the countertop. Her humming had now become gentle singing. "I'd rather see you up, then see you down". She turned to me, with the kindest pale blue eyes. Wisdom and strength radiated from her, revealing itself from her aura of gold. With a sweet word, a warming smile, she asked me to take a seat. Her custard green table was an antique, with hummingbird knickknacks place upon its center.
Belle, the old golden retriever, laid her head on my lap after a long yawn. I looked to the small window above the porcelain sink. Gems and rocks glistened on the windowpane from the setting sun. Through the window I could see the old cherry tree, with bloody sap formed on its trunk. The old ford truck tire hung by a hemp rope from a tired branch. Sun flowers waved in the whistling wind, by the worn wooden fence. Surely, they were drying out, leaving seeds to fall and feed birds that winter.
My eyes wondered back into the room, where pearl tone teal plates and heavy clear drinking glasses had been thoughtfully placed on the table while I had been daydreaming. Remembering, I believe we ate our supper, then for dessert we indulged in lemon meringue pie. Once the sun had set and a blanket of stars and clouds cradled the moon, my grandmother and I went out onto her back porch to rest on the wooden steps.
Laying my head on her shoulder, as she pushed hair from my eyes, I could see the reflections of water against the houses across the street. The Ohio River was flowing South, like a sneak in the night. That old house had given birth to so many dreams and memories over the years. Laughter had filled and spilled inside its walls. There is not a time in my life that I miss as much as I miss evenings spent at my grandmother's house.
Over two decades later in the month of September, I pull in across the street from an empty lot on North Huron Street. Parking my mom's Chevy Impala by the yellow curb and taking a deep breath. After hand rolling my window down, I toss my sunglasses on the passenger seat and stare into the straw covered lot with squinty eyes. All that is left of my grandmother's house is a weed ridden sidewalk, leading to a big empty space in between to condemned houses. Yellow and black caution tape imprisoned the lot on both ends, restricting any trespassers and visitors from entering its resting place.
After watching crows ominously fight over the tanned straw strewn carelessly about what is left of the big yard, I find myself saddened by the unforgiving thoughts of a humble home now destroyed by this so called "Friendly City". Starting the ignition, I take one last glance at the spot I had come to collect my feelings and childhood memories. Letting out a sigh of relief, I pop the car in drive and hold my foot on the brake. One last look. Although the aged house is gone, the timeless memories will never be lost or stolen from my heart. Releasing the brake, I glide away from the abandoned lot. Following the one-way street, I head North across town to my grandmother's new home.