From Tracie: Fall Weekends With Melissa

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Fall Weekends With Melissa

I always spent the last weekend in October with Melissa at her grandmother's house when we were kids. The weekend always started with a small hint of coolness in the air, as fall fought its way past the Florida heat.

Her grandmother's house was prim and proper, the way old houses owned by old people often are.

The living room was uncomfortable. It felt green, like being underwater in a murky lake, even though there was very little actual green in the room. A formal sofa, hard wingback chairs, and an upright piano that was never quite in tune stood on dark hardwood floors. There was a loose floorboard under the sofa with a metal box hiding under it.

Next to the house was a garage that felt like a barn. It wasn't really a barn at all; but it was painted red, and it had a dark loft that was reached by climbing wooden boards nailed to the wall. In the back of the loft was a shelf (a warped board sitting on cement blocks) with old tools and mason jars. In a box behind a stack of pickle cans, we found a stash of old magazines that probably belonged to her long-dead grandfather.

Melissa and I spent most of our time in the attic. The stairs pulled down from the ceiling in the hallway, as all proper attic stairs should, and it was our favorite room.

It was the kind of attic that belonged in a movie. Racks of old clothes from the early 1900s to the 1970s were lined up on the left side with hat boxes piled precariously next to them. Old trunks sat in a row under the sloped ceiling. One trunk contained lace shawls, and had small compartments holding an assortment of fancy hat pins and jewelry. We found love letters her grandmother had saved, from a man whose name did not match her grandfather's, hidden under the shawls.

Shelves and trunks full of books sectioned off the right side of the attic. It was bathed in red and blue light that streamed through a round, stained glass window. Melissa and I spent hours sitting on bean bag chairs, feet propped up on the trunks, talking and eating Hot Pockets. I taught her how to cross stitch, and she tried to teach me how to crochet.

When night fell, we lit candles, and turned on a small lamp with a ridiculous pink fringed shade. In our teen years, we raided the trunk that held the books from Melissa's mom's teen years, left in the attic when she moved away to college. We would giggle late into the night, until her grandmother banged on the ceiling with a broom handle, yelling at us to be quiet.

When the weekend ended, fall had always settled in. I left Melissa, and her grandmother's seemingly prim and proper house, wearing a coat with a few borrowed books hidden in the pockets.

35 comments:

  1. We played in my grandparents' attic. I don't remember what was there. Wow, I'm getting old.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My grandparents didn't have attics.

      Which seems so very wrong. There should be rules about grandparents having attics.

      Delete
  2. This was a really beautiful piece. My family is pretty nomadic and apparently has a penchant for hanging out with other nomads so I've never been to a house that's been in someone's family for generations. I would love to see an attic like that. Your description of it was great!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you. No one in my (also pretty nomadic) family had a house that long. It was great fun to have such open access to Melissa's.

      Delete
  3. Having a 'clubhouse' is such a wonderful feeling. I love the description of the lamp and the description of a 'green' feeling.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks. A clubhouse is a needed thing for kids, I think. So many special memories and so much fun.

      Delete
  4. How cool to find your own special place full of forgotten treasures! Well done!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Very nice descriptive words. You brought the reader into the room with you; I could hear the giggles.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you. I love that it was able to draw you in like that.

      Delete
  6. Thanks for letting us visit Melissa's with you...loved the part about the books hidden in the pockets.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I was always sooooo envious of those cool attics people had in the movies and in YA books. Those weekends sound like heaven!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They were awesome weekends.

      One day I hope to live in a house with an attic. I wouldn't even mind if I found things from previous owners hidden up there....in fact I would pretty much love that (as long as it wasn't something scary!).

      Delete
  8. what a great feel you painted....a time to be remembered and cherished.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes. That is exactly how I feel about it. Thanks, Sarah!

      Delete
  9. The house would be a good place for a mystery to evolve. I'm imagining you as Nancy Drew here!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes! Being Nancy Drew was pretty much my ultimate dream as a kid (and maybe even now). That house would have been a great place for a mystery.

      Oh. And, quite a few Nancy Drew books were read in that attic. I love that.

      Delete
  10. Such evocative writing - I especially liked this: "It felt green, like being underwater in a murky lake..."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you. I'm so happy you enjoyed it.

      Delete
  11. I loved the "it felt green" description too. Great post! My grandmother had a stack of love letters too--it always felt so romantic looking at them, tied with a ribbon and saved for so many years, although I do believe hers were from my grandfather!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! I love that you got to see your grandmother's saved letters - even more so since they were form your grandfather. That is a precious gift.

      Delete
  12. Sounds like fall with Melissa was perfect for a girl who loved exploring. So many mysteries in that place.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So very perfect. I'm sure there were mysteries that we never found.

      Delete
  13. I wished that we had a hiding place like an attic. We used to hide in my parents closet where we found playboy magazines...ahem

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Closets can be dangerous. Attics are much better! ;-)

      Delete
  14. I'm so envious. I would have adored exploring like this. Just perfect for teen girls (and me now?). I love how you snuck out a few books as I would have too. Wonderfully written memory, Tracie!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think it would still be perfect for us now! A good attic exploration is something you never really outgrow.

      Thanks!

      Delete
  15. What fun! I love attics, but grew up in a house that didn't have one. It sounds like you really looked forward to this trip, and I can see why!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I really did. The house I grew up in didn't have an attic either.

      Delete
    2. How fun!!! I've always been so super jealous of people who have delightful attics--they are written about in so many books and I've never been in an attic-let alone a totally book worthy one, what an amazing memory to have! :)

      Delete
  16. I love, love, love that this ends with borrowed books in your pockets!

    ReplyDelete
  17. I was always fascinated by the attics of friends. I didn't have one growing up and they all seemed so mysterious and nostalgic!

    ReplyDelete
  18. I totally want to explore that attic! Sounds like really fun experiences.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I have never ever played in an attic! Sandie

    ReplyDelete