Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Inner Excavation: Senses and memory

I'm continuing my Inner Excavation with a little trip (very little) to downtown Melbourne, where I grew up.

As part of the theme of capturing senses, you have to play the video while you read... only because this here is mood music. You don't have to watch Claudio Villa, just listen.


As it happens, I still live just a few miles from the old house that my family bought when I was in second grade. It was old when we moved in, old when we moved out, and it's really looking its age these days.

Our house
I felt a bit like a spy with an undetectable camera taking this photo, only of course my camera is completely detectable.

What I see when I look at this photo... My sisters and me in the yard, selling lemonade for 10¢ and trying to get a neighbor to buy our brother. Eileen in the mulberry tree a few yards over, skinned knees, blanket tents in the backyard, my dad's music room in the garage. Our side porch with the mix-and-match floor of tiny tiles from Italian Tile and Terrazzo. The bamboo trees that are gone now, and along with them, the woodpeckers, my grandmother's ducks, and Nonno's giant garden next door. The people who live here now probably still find Barbie-leg carrots and welk shells the the neighbor boys from India - Sam, Modi, Jay, and Subash - painted for us in the yard.

I really did want to wander around, to touch the cedars (are they cedars?) my dad planted, but I stayed in the car in the street, looking spy-like. The driveway's still bumpy as all hell. I wonder if the giant Lantana is still out back.

This house smelled like onions, garlic, basil, and sometimes squash tendrils (tenerumi) to me. Also orange blossom perfume, Balsam creme rinse, Comet, Vick's Vap-O-Rub, and Pepto Bismol. These days I imagine it smells more like oldness.

I remember sweet tastes from when we lived here: grape ice pops and Jell-O, Kool Aid, peanut butter, bananas, and super sweet iced tea. I might be remembering things wrong.

But I can still hear Benny Goodman, Louis Armstrong, "I'm gonna buy a paper doll that I can call my own," and Glenn Miller, even without my dad's headphones stretched across his head and mine.

"O chitarra romana, accompagnami tu."
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