Monday, May 28, 2012

The American Dream

I am going to pretend like it hasn't been a while.  I am convinced that posting today will not turn out to be an isolated incident.  I have decided to put memoirs together, as it were.  As I get older, I find myself tending to forget a lot of things.  So, for posterity's sake, I am going to start recording them here.  I am curious to see if I skip the parts of my life that I wished I could forget.  I guess we will find out.

This isn't my house or family, but it captures the spirit.
Beginnings and New Beginnings

My mom and dad came from humble beginnings and both were hard workers.  There wasn’t really a time when I remembered them having a loving marriage.  However, back then there was a duty to kids and they had five of them.  Until I was three years old, our family lived in a humble house my folks rented in a working class neighborhood.

I don’t really remember too much about my life then, but the fragments I do remember include the little dog my elderly neighbor had next door.  I also remember having an oak tree in the small backyard that my brother liked to climb on and get on top of the garage that was connected to the alley. He would throw acorns at me and anyone or anything else that might cause an uproar.  I also remember putting pennies on the train tracks that were just across the street and gather them flattened.

When I was three, we moved into a house that my folks had built in a new subdivision.  Neither my father nor mother had much of an education. However, back then, you could manage to build and move into a new house if you worked hard and remained frugal.  The American Dream was alive and well and my folks were full participants.  Today, there is no way my parents would be able to build a house - probably not even buy one.  When people talk about “the good ol’ days,” this is what they were talking about.  It isn’t as much as a myth as some would have you believe.

I was proud of that house.  It was in a new part of town and was built in the middle of an apple orchard.  There were fields and trees and woods all around.  The house was also a rock’s throw from the elementary school.  Happy times.

There weren’t very many people in my neighborhood when we first moved in.  However, across the street was a family that also had a number of kids.  With those kids, we had friends that turned into adversaries and then to friends again.  They lived a rural existence and I liked spending time over there mostly.  Funny, my mother, now disabled and widowed, still lives in our house.  The neighbors across the street are still there, too – well, the mother of that clan, also a widow, remains there. Of course her kids have mostly moved on but our lives intersect every now and then.  

It was these roots that should be credited or blamed for forging the core of the man I am today.

6 comments:

Michelle said...

A very sweet memory. Got me thinking about my own childhood and my parents' buying their first house.

How things change... so true.

Jeff said...

Thanks, Michelle. It was a nice time in my life. No worries. Ignorance is certainly bliss.

Amel said...

Ahhhh...so many memories!!! I lived in my parents' house for 27 years (4 years in the first house and 23 years in the second one) before moving to Finland. My Mom still lives there with my bro, wife, and son (my Dad passed away in Jan 2012) and we still have many same neighbours along the years, though their kids have mostly moved away.

Jeff said...

Amel: It is a strange place in life where memories become as important as dreams.

Amel said...

I've been talking with my close friends lately about memories...and I realize that it's important to write things down (as you stated in this post) because they do get blurry or they get mixed up with other things. It happened when my friends and I compared our mutual memories about what had happened in the past...some got mixed up and some others got forgotten (though luckily one or two of us still remember the incidents)...but I think the longer we let them go, the blurry they get (at least the details).

Jeff said...

Amel, I know. It is scary. I recently visited my aunt in the hospital and she reminded me of some stuff my dad used to say. It was bitter-sweet. I didn't remember it until she reminded me.