Writing 101: Size Matters
Tell us about the home where you lived when you were twelve. Which town, city, or country? Was it a house or an apartment? A boarding school or foster home? An airstream or an RV? Who lived there with you?
Today's twist: pay attention to your sentence lengths and use short, medium, and long sentences as you compose your response about the home you lived in when you were twelve.
My youngest son turned twelve on Sunday. He has lived in the same house his entire life. By the time I was twelve, I had moved three times, though only one I remember. The year I was twelve, I moved a fourth time.
I was in sixth grade that year. I attended the middle school in Anoka, Minnesota that was my paternal grandmother’s high school in the early twentieth century. We lived in the house my dad helped build by the Rum River. Lily pads lined the backwash. Mallards nested in the peninsula’s brown river grasses. Dad’s row boat basked upside down at the water’s edge. Marigolds outlined Mom’s garden in spring and summer. The woods colored themselves in September and October. One year the snow drifted halfway up our front door.
The carpet in the bedrooms matched our favorite colors. Mine was a deep wine. My sisters was a smoky blue, and my brothers was a molted white-green. Mom and Dad’s was eighties gold. We had a blue bathtub and blue double sinks in the kids’ bathroom. I took showers in my parents’ three-quarter bath. One Saturday night, a hot air balloon blew off-course into our woods. The passengers in the basket, too concerned with getting out of their predicament, didn’t see naked me gawking through the steamed-up window.
I loved that my room faced the trees. I searched out my favorite branch, the leaves mimicking a bird in suspended flight.
Unfortunately, life is not a suspended flight.
We moved to Chesterfield, Missouri in March. I went back to elementary school and recess for two months. Somewhere during the move I forgot—or became rerouted in—math. I learned girls in Missouri are just as mean as girls in Minnesota. I discovered, after playing basketball since fourth grade, I wouldn’t be able to play on a another team until ninth grade. I won the relay race in the school track meet. I realized I was good at running.
All the carpet in this house was neutral, the woodwork painted white. I liked my window shutters. They opened on the scant grove of trees growing along a red-clay basin. We tried sledding into the basin when snow closed school. But, there was less than six inches by afternoon. We did play baseball there. I became a Cardinals fan in 1985.
When I talked “about” (a-boat) “pop” instead of “soda,” my Missouri friends laughed at my northern accent. When I visited Minnesota and said “It’s good to be home,” my grandfather claimed he heard a drawl. When Mom said, “Home is where you graduate from high school,” I groaned.
In 1987, I became a Minnesota Twins fan. I went from being a ninth grader in junior high to a freshman in high school before Christmas. I started playing basketball again. I groaned when the orchestra conductor announced the destination for the spring trip. At least, I would have a second chance to go up in the St. Louis Arch.