Flashback: Pick Up Sticks

While rearranging some things yesterday, this can of pick up sticks jumped off a shelf and tumbled down the basement stairs. On the way, the top opened and scattered the sticks all over the basement floor. As I picked up the sticks and placed them in their 1970’s container, I totally flashed back to playing with these very sticks many times as a child. I could remember the texture of the gold nubby carpet in my grandparent’s house where the sticks would wedge themselves waiting to be plucked out by eager hands. I could hear the sounds of a era long gone playing out of a stereo that took up an entire cabinet. I could smell the unique mixture of many perfumes from the many little bottles arranged on my grandmother’s dresser. I could feel the heat of a house inhabited my people whose circulatory systems weren’t getting younger.

Many small details of that house that my grandparents had not lived in for many, many years preceding their deaths came flooding back.

– The wall of photos of my grandparents children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. A place where no one aged past their senior year of high school.

– The velvety texture of the flowered couches. I often wonder how in the world my grandmother kept her cats hair off those couches.

– The little ceramic dog figurines that were on the lamp-table. Unlike many of the other figurines in the house, they were the ones we could play with.

– The aqua colored refrigerator in the basement with perfect rows of flavored sodas. I appreciated all of the colors and choices and yet always drank the red fruit punch.

– The gold chairs that went around the kitchen table. They swiveled and it was way more fun to eat at their table than at home where the chairs were still.

– The two staircases that allowed you to run a loop around the house that included the upstairs and the downstairs – however you had to walk through the kitchen.

– The front door that I never entered through not even once. I think it is funny now because we have a front door that rarely gets used. Now that I think about it our house is oriented the same way as my grandparents house – on a corner with the garage off the street perpendicular to where the front door is makinghte back door a natural choice over the front

– the Avon bottles, the clowns, the globe, the ever-present dish of nuts or mints, the bar with its display of stir sticks mounted above it, the carpeted kitchen (why oh why), the carpeted bathrooms with interchangeable perfectly cut carpet pieces, my grandfather’s shoehorns…..

I really have no idea why the can of pick up sticks made it through the downsizing from their house to their apartment or why after my grandfather died they ended up moving to her new apartment with her….or why I just happened to be there when my uncle was packing up some of my grandmother’s things in preparation for the move to my aunt’s house and he asked if my kids might like them. I didn’t think anything of it at the time (maybe it was because my grandmother was still alive), but I am glad I took them because in a few brief moments while picking up sticks off my basement floor, I was transported back to a place that lives only in my memories.

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