Looking Around - A Journey Back Home
I was reading this post by Annie, at Earthen Vessel about her mom going back to the old home place. That really brought up memories of one place that stands out for me - the apartment that I had 30 years ago, before I got married to George.
In the 1980's, I paid $150.00 a month for a one bedroom apartment in an old 3 story apartment building near the campus of the University of Montana, in Missoula. My apartment was on the second floor, and looked out into a tree-lined boulevard. It was listed as a one bedroom apartment, with a small kitchen-dining area, a large livingroom, and bath. Beautiful glass-paned doors opened into the living room, and old leaded glass doors were on kitchen and diningroom cabinets.
I collaged one entire diningroom wall with illustrations from "Ideals Magazine", pictured above, which featured bucollic countrysides, little country churches, country cooking, and patriotic poems. I lined the windows with sheer curtains, and had hanging plants in the windows. Coleus starts and 'Bloodroot tendrils' spilled over bookcases filled with cookbooks and sculpture from my art class. It was a home for a 'hippie', with vanilla candles, macrame wall hangings, beads and crystals hanging from driftwood, and spices and grains in old glass jars.
I remodeled the drab 1930's style bathroom, which featured very old plumbing and a black and white mozaic tile floor. My sister and I worked together, pounding cedar shakes onto the wall, and adding an old cherry crate for a shelf. I acquired a beaver pelt from a relative out on a ranch, and when I was finished, my bathroom looked like an authentic old west outhouse.
My apartment had a large closet with an oval window, and that became the bedroom for my daughter, Laurel. I made a stained glass insert to put in this window, so that soft pastel colors would filter through the floral pattern, and spray colors into her room. It was enchanting! Perfectly suited for a little girl.
Laurel's bedroom was a room large enough for her bed, a desk and chair. I painted a mural on the wall, of a nest of rabbits. It came with built-in cabinets and drawers which I painted lime green, and it had another large window in front of her little desk. This is the room my daughter fondly remembers from her childhood when she was age 3 - 6 years old.
Laurel left this little apartment when she was six, to live with her father for three years. She lived most of her childhood in Wilmette, Illinois, sharing time with her father and his wife, and living with George and I in our home in Glenview, Illinois.
Once we all moved away from Montana, Laurel was determined to move back there. She got her Masters Degree in Psychology at the University of Montana. Many times, she would walk past the apartment building on her way to classes, and look up at the little oval window that was her bedroom. She would remember that place being 'the happiest home' she could ever recall - when it was "just Mom and me, girls together."
Once I went to visit Laurel, driving down from Kalispell, about 70 miles away. We had just finished lunch in her little apartment, and she suggested going over to the old apartment - just to ask the tenants if "we could look around". We did so, unannounced, a little apprehensive about what we'd find.
There were a group of guys living there. The rugs, which I shampooed to keep them a bright apricot, were dingy. All the picture collages were gone, the curtains replaced with shades, and the rabbit mural was gone - painted over. I walked over, ran my hand down the side of the wall, and felt the rise of rippled paint where their tails had been.
Nothing looked or felt the same. Even the shingles in the bathroom had been taken out, and resurfaced with touchups and new paint. It was an apartment that held no spirit of a young woman and her little daughter. Laurel and I thanked the guys and left. We drove back to her apartment, discussing all the changes and how good life was way back then.
You know, you can never go back home again. But, I love going back there in my mind, to remember the many friendships I made, to remember the art projects, the classes I took at the University. And, of course, one day George entered my livingroom to attend a Baha'i Holy Day celebration. Thirty years later, he's still sitting here, never very far away. And Laurel - she's left Montana too, and lives near us, over in Renton. She's a lucky woman - all her parents gather together several times a year, both sets, and we celebrate being a family. Although the places have changed, we've all managed to stay together. Still making memories.