Thursday, January 12, 2012

A ghetto-fantastic childhood

I had a friend in high school who lived right across the street. The first time I ever met him, it was late at night and I saw a kid hanging out his bedroom window smoking. We met awhile later and became the best of friends (--and don't worry, his smoking didn't rub off on me. In fact, I don't think it rubbed off on him much either).

Anyway, his family and my family were friends throughout all my teen years in Wyoming. We watched their house burn down while they were on vacation and had to call and tell them about it.

My friend must be visiting Cody because a few days ago on Facebook he posted a picture of the house I grew up in.

And here it is in all its glory:


My Facebook response went like this:
"Oh my gosh. Was it always that ghetto?"

It made me think about how our perception changes as we grow and start to see things through adult eyes.

I remember having friends who had really big and neat houses, but I don't remember ever being embarrassed of my own. I remember that our house cost my parents $45,000 to buy and it sat on an acre of land. I remember someone telling me their parents bought a house for $100,000 and I imagined it must be a mansion with marble columns on either side of the grand staircase.

I remember that the 8x8 laundry room in our house also served as a bedroom (for two people). It had no closet or dressers (I am just now wondering for the first time where all the clothes were). And we had an awesome game of using the string that hung from the lightbulb to swing from the top bunk to the top of the dryer.
I remember that the house was ALWAYS freezing. I remember my sister and I almost burning down the house once by starting a fire in the wood stove and leaving a full box of matches on top of the stove.
I remember the paint peeling on the front fence (which isn't there any more), and I remember EVERYONE drove into the little ditch when they pulled into our driveway. I remember the house was gray until my colorblind dad painted it the current color--PINK, if you ask me--but tan to him.

I remember my dad building the big metal shop in the back by hand and watching him walk across the super high trusses carrying two by fours. I remember the big addition he put on the back of the house over a span of eight years so that they could do it without debt.
I remember the summer my parents moved to Washington and I stayed in the house by myself at the age of 17. Man did I think I knew everything.

Did I think my life was ghetto back then?
Of course not.
Was it though?
I'm not sure.

Today I live on a nice Suburbia-ish street where each home is well maintained and under ten years old. We have sidewalks and vinyl siding and vaulted ceilings, and I still look at those nicer houses--the ones my friends live in or that I visit from time to time--and I feel envy. I feel like I don't have anything.
But I have so much.

Whether I came from Ghettoville or it's just turned to Ghettoville since we've been gone, who knows. Either way, I know I had a great childhood in that house. My parents worked really hard and sacrificed for us all the time. I have so many fond memories of growing up on that street, and I hope that's what happens to my kids too.

I hope they don't notice that the Suburban is getting close to its last leg. I hope they forgive me that sometimes their gifts are second hand, and that almost all of their clothes are hand-me-downs. I hope they are patient as we go through these lean college years and then the starting-a-new-career-at-close-to-40 years.

I may have been ghetto, who knows. We seem to have turned out all right.

Do you think your view of your childhood has changed now that you're an adult?

12 comments:

Brittany said...

This is awesome Maggie. I worry all the time about my kids thinking the way people live around us is normal. Living within your means should be "normal", not driving expensive cars and having 1000 square feet per person in your household.

Jessica R. Patch said...

I love this post. I drove by my childhood home. Actually, I stopped and knocked hoping the owner would let me in, but she wasn't home. (I know her--not like that wouldv'e stopped me)

The house seemed huge growing up, but it seemed run down and much smaller. The Pine tree in the front yard that I thought was castle tower enormous, wasn't. It was just tall and round.

And the town? As a kid, it seemed clean and homey. Now, it literally is crammed full of meth-heads in travel trailers. I know that's not skewed perception.

But I have so many fond memories of that little town (not of Bethlehem). I think your house is mostly tan, but I can go with a pink tint. :)

Leigh Covington said...

Its funny because I feel the same way about my house. I actually live around the corner from where I grew up, but my house is so ghetto now. The people who own don't take care of it at all. My dad had that place looking beautiful. And while most of the people I went to school with had HUGE, outlandishly "rich-people" houses, I was never embarrassed my mine. I loved my house. It was comfortable and people felt at home there. I hate it when my kids wish for a bigger house, cause honestly - ours isn't bad... it's just not "awesome!" haha

Rebecca H. Jamison said...

My childhood neighborhood is being replaced by McMansions. My parents still live there in our little home. BTW, if you lived in Cody, you probably know my husband's cousins, the Sampsons. His uncle taught high school history for a long time.

Emily R. King said...

Ha! That is so funny. I love that that was your first response. I feel the same way about some of the houses I grew up in, but I also have so many fond memories of living there. It's all in perspective.

Jolene Perry said...

No one I knew had an actual finished house. We lived in small town Alaska where everyone built their own houses.
I didn't bat an eye at using a port-a-potty in someone's house or an outhouse for a night.
We always had plywood floors, and it never occurred to me to care.

Melanie Jacobson said...

We weren't ghetto. But we were the poster children for the working class poor. And you know what? The great memories from growing up FAR outweigh the bad ones. I know we lacked stuff sometimes, but as an adult, I can see that none of those things mattered at all. Fun post.

Kaylee Baldwin said...

What's funny is talking to your siblings and seeing how we all remember things differently. My parents still live in the same house I grew up in, so I guess my perceptions have evolved so slowly over time I haven't noticed.

Chantele Sedgwick said...

We lived in a house where my sister and brother and I all shared a room for a while. My baby sister got a room all to herself, since she was a baby... But I remember most of my friends had their own rooms. I loved sharing with my siblings. When we moved, I still shared a room with my sister until I was in high school. And sometimes I'd sneak up in her room and sleep on her pullout bed. Our family was very close. Still is. I hope my kids are as close when they're older. And hopefully they don't mind the small house we'll be in a for a while. :)

Elizabeth said...

What a nice post. We had 8, yes 8 kids when I was growing up. We had four bedrooms, but now when we go back to visit...it does look pretty small. We all do change our perceptions as we grow.

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Peggy Eddleman said...

Yeah, I think my views have changed. I think it alsp just goes to show that we don't have to give our kids everything-- they can pretty much think they have it all even when they don't.

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