I was a dollar richer and more the wiser the next morning.
Where a childhood memory lays to rest behind the doors of 1704 Marquette. The top finishing coat of the hard wood floor peeling, chipping away, Mom using every wood polish possible to keep the shine. The wall near the entrance to the hallway stamped with lipstick infused kisses - every friend and family kissing the white wall, forming a collage of pink to red oil hues.
The cat calendar dating 1988 above the phone against the wall, the calendar my cousin Karen told me are watching with their large cat eyes and going to haunt me in my sleep. A hole in the hallway wall where my little brother Patrick angrily smashed a skateboard into.
Impossible today to look out of the restroom window, standing on the toilet cover to overlook the minimal grass spotted backyard. An inward-leaning wire fence separating the neighbor’s yard, where chickens once roamed before my dog Bobbi found a way to their side of the fence. How I wonder if the window shutters are kept closed today.
The wooden grand piano against the large window near the front door, where I would pound the Erasure tune “Oh L’amour.” The tape player, blaring Violent Femmes, below the record player with the missing needle, never replaced. And in my own world singing along with a home-made foil microphone.
Never again will I enter the house where Dad would visit from Austin, bringing loads of presents to keep our minds off the broken family awareness. Patrick and I buying the scheme and pulling each other’s hair out to be 'player one' on Spy vs. Spy on Nintendo. And my father leaving again a heartbroken mother in tears behind the broken front door which locks with the turn of a screw-driver. I watched her peer out of the small window on the door as he drove away. The window that a jealous boyfriend once thrust his fist through, proclaiming my mother’s love but failing to replace the damage.
Where I woke at 3am, peeking into the dimmed living room to find Mom with my front tooth, smoking a cigarette and writing how much she loved me, signed the tooth fairy. I was a dollar richer and more the wiser the next morning.
Pulling Bobbi’s 8th litter of ten puppies from under the house, scared of bugs crawling on my face. And the sound of large cockroaches flapping their paper thin wings above Mom's bed as I tried sleeping at night. My mother’s queen sized bed where the three of us slept, Patrick in the middle, me against the wall, and Mom near the room entrance guarding us from the ghosts Patrick and I swore existed. Even after my mother gave my life-size doll away because Patrick believed it to be Chuckie’s girlfriend. Although I teased him about being afraid of a doll coming to life, I was happy to rid her and her blue glass eyes staring down at me from the top of the saggy wooden shelf.
The kitchen where I will never again smell the fresh homemade cooking. Oven roasted chicken, Mexican rice, and macaroni. Sunday barbeque chicken wings and barbacoa meat. And the window above the sink I once looked out and swore unwillingly to God in front of Karen, hand over heart, to quit drinking Nestle Quick chocolate milk from a baby bottle by my next birthday. Tears streamed down my face as I sobbed out the oath. The window also overlooked the tree I climbed daily to sit alone, above and away from the rest of the world. In that tree, sitting on a single wooden plank, the base of a tree house never to exist, I knew one day my life would be far away from my home in Brownsville, Texas at 1704 Marquette street.