Do you remember anything about your first kitchen? Robin Hemley’s writing task in Now Write (Nonfiction) asks me to think back to my first kitchen. I kind of broke the rules a little. He wanted me to write a list of the things I saw in the kitchen, to see if I could reconstruct the kitchen from my memory.
I went back about 17 years to our family’s first home in Canada. The one that got burned down a year after I came to Canada. Here’s what I remember about that kitchen.
The Year was 1997. The month, no idea. I was seven or eight (depending on whether it was before of after August 8th). I don’t know why I did it, but I did. Instead of playing Barbie’s or coloring with my sisters, I would find myself dozing off at the kitchen table.
Mom was always doing the dishes at the constantly over flooded sink. That’s what happens when you have 13 children, there is never an end to dishes. Or laundry for that matter. My poor mother! How thrilled she must be that 12 of us have moved out!
I would come into the kitchen after school, backpack still on my back, and plop down on the only empty chair at the often cluttered kitchen table. I would make sure I was close to the cassette player/radio that sat on the table among the clutter of dishes and over ripe apples. Mom always had a German cassette playing, the latest and greatest from the church we attended. Sometimes I would shove over some of the clutter and use the space to color. But usually I would cross my arms onto the table, put my head down and let the German church music put me to sleep.
Sometimes I would let my eyes wander to explore the kitchen before I was dream land. I’d admire the variety of items that adorned the fridge. There were Christmas cards from members of our church congregation, drawings that us kids had scribbled, smiling school photographs, and various phone numbers held up with random magnets.
Sometimes I would look through the kitchen window and notice my brothers playing in the backyard. The same window my brother put his fist through once. He carries a scar in the shape of his first initial to remember that day. Although, sometimes it was really too dark to see anything. That’s usually after I woke up, only to be sent to bed.
Other times I would notice that there were more crayon marks on the wall, or less paint. Kids can really do some damage! I was bound to get distracted by giggles coming from the basement or any number of places within the small 6(ish) bedroom house.
I look back fondly on those days. There were no bills for me to worry about. No important life decisions to make. Although, I did have to be wary of my baby sister (3 at the time) who loved to play that game where she pulled our my hair by the fistful, or bite with her razor sharp teeth. Those moments, away from the little monster, where I could be in the heart of the house with my mother and her German music were priceless.