This is part 1 in the All About Me series for NaBloWriMo that I’m taking part in for February.
So I figured what better place to start than the beginning right? My parents met in Boston, when my dad was working in the same restaurant as my mom’s ex-husband – my siblings dad. Her ex-husband was working there on the side, his actual career was that of a high school English teacher. My dad had moved up from waiter to Maitre D’ of this particular place, The Cafe Budapest. This was a 5-star Hungarian restaurant run by a feisty woman named Edith Ban, a Holocaust survivor with her concentration camp number tattooed on her arm, a flair for business and wearing beautiful white dresses. The restaurant was famous for its cuisine as well as its color-themed rooms and was featured briefly in the movie The Housesitter.
Defying her Irish Catholic upbringing, my mother had gone through with a divorce, and was now marrying her true love, my father. They were married without much ado and soon moved to Connecticut briefly, before heading to Washington, DC. There my dad became the Maitre D’ of the Capitol Hill Club, which served politicians and dignitaries from across the globe, including Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. I remember a story he told about the television breaking down during the election results and my dad rushing home to bring our TV for soon-to-be President Ford to watch. It was during that time that I arrived.
My parents and sister and brother lived in a townhouse in Fairfax, VA when I was born. My mom had experienced the sorrow of multiple miscarriages before I came into the world, so as you can imagine, I was treated like a princess from the start. I was born 2 weeks before Christmas day, but my mom was unable to leave the hospital due to an infection. When she finally arrived home, it was Christmas and I was placed under the tree on a blanket and became known as her “best Christmas present ever.”
Soon my father moved on to a position managing the Roanoke Civic Center (I’m sure it has a different name now, this was before the time of everything being sponsored by someone or something!) and we moved to Roanoke as well. It is here where I have my first vague memories…A house on a hill, sun streaming in the windows, and an embarrassing story involving my being potty trained. (I was apparently especially proud of my…accomplishment and carried it out to show my mom and sister. Sigh.) I don’t remember much else as we then moved to Clifton Park, NY when I was 2½.
It was in Clifton Park that I formed more vivid memories. I loved our house on 1 Mystic Lane, with the strawberries my mom planted on the little hill separating our yard from the street, my dad’s rock garden in the back and my swing-set where I’d swing with just my socks on and come back in with stick-a-burrs (well, that’s what I called them, I’m not sure of their technical name?) all over my feet. I remember burning my feet on the hot macadam driveway in the summer as I waddled over to the kiddie pool, and I remember learning to ice skate on that same driveway with a chair and my dad cheering me on. I started kindergarten at age 4 and remember riding the “Racoon” bus with my little name tag. I remember the “Blizzard of ’78” where a tree branch fell on our station wagon. It was right after that that we moved to Massachusetts. I distinctly recall my mom coming into our den and saying “We’re going home!” and answering “To Virginia?” I had no idea that ‘home’ was actually Massachusetts for everyone but me.
Actually, home for my dad had been Florida for most of his life. He was raised in Ocala and lived in Jacksonville briefly before the Navy brought him to Scituate, Massachusetts and the rest is history. Anyway, my parents found a home in Sharon, MA and it definitely became home for me as I spent the next 6 years there from 4½ to 10. I had such a wonderful childhood there and so wish I could go back in time and re-experience some of it! It was a different time, of course. My memories consist of being outside from morning until the streetlights came on, exploring the woods behind our neighborhood, riding my bike, walking or rollerskating ‘uptown’ to the town center either with friends or alone and going to the library, the penny candy store, the convenience store…things that would make a mom of a child under 10 cringe with fear in this day and age! Somehow, I managed to survive and live to tell about it.
I idolized my sister and brother growing up, they were always older, wiser, cooler and anything they passed on to me was instantly cherished as something that made ME cool, because it came from them. Because of the age difference among my sister, brother and I (I was 10 and 9 years younger than them, respectively) it was almost like I was an only child (in terms of being spoiled I mean!). I reveled in the age of Barbies and Cabbage Patch Kids, Atari and Strawberry Shortcake. By the time we were about to move to central Florida, music had taken over and Michael Jackson, Men at Work and David Bowie had replaced the toys and dolls I loved.
I think I could write an entire book about my life up to age 10 alone, not to mention the amazing stories my parents bring to the mix. I’ll stop here for today though and go into more detail tomorrow. Feel free to comment with your childhood memories, favorite toys or activities as a kid! I’d love to hear about you too.