Story by Chelsea Gilmore
I think back to the trouble maker I never was, wearing all black with grey kicks, drinking cheap beer, passing around cinnamon whiskey, and smoking cigarettes that my buddy bought with a fake id. My group of misfits meets on the porch and journeys to sit on the abandoned bridge where trains used to pass, letting our feet hang over the edge and throwing empty bottles into the overgrown ditch below.
I see in my mind the time as a youngster, climbing the old willow tree behind my house with all the neighbor kids… straddling the weeping limbs and dangling monkey arms and legs to the ground until mom rang the dinner bell from the front porch.
These are moments I recall, though times that never existed.
I often think of the girl that I never was, the places where I hold memories unlived and the feelings of home where I’ve never been. I remember the moments spent at Marlou’s house so clearly… that grandmotherly presence in all the nooks and crannies.
It is a ranch style home- wooded and white- out in the country in a field of golden grasses that melt into an ocean of honey, slow and viscous. There is a stand of cottonwoods in the distance with a small ephemeral creek that turns to mud and then to dust and back again. We are all but collections of the same star dust, and so, that little grove also feels like home.
I can see the old trees, crooked and branching, from the kitchen window. Just above the sink, the white frame into the world is lined with white fabric that hangs and blows as breezes come in. The kitchen is tiled with white and grey, the old stove and refrigerator match in a perfect yellow ochre. The whole room smells like butter and sugar and tastes like rhubarb pie and mint iced tea.
On the front porch, there is a swinging bench and an old sturdy rocking chair that creeks and complains with each sway. As a kid, in my mind, I sit on the bench and let my feet dangle. As a woman I rock and swing… looking out at the vastness of amber grasses waving back at me. Sipping tea. Watching the bugs mingle with the dust of sunset haze…noticing where small mammals scurry as the microcosm of specs erupts, glittering around their movements in the after light. Inside, the air is stale and warm. Outside the air glows.
I’ve never been to this place, I’ve never known it to exist at all except for my memories… The remembering is so real, but for a life unbelonging to me. I never met my grandmother and I wonder if somewhere between the living and dying, the existence of matter and mind got mixed up and gifted me this relic of her…
The memory of my front porch.