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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Homes: The Way They Were

There’s a scene in the movie, The Way We Were, where two men are sharing “best of” memories. Inspired by that scene, I am remembering the many homes of my life and their “best of” moments.

Though I have lived in many places, not all of them felt like home. The ones that I think of as home were those where I felt connected to my surroundings. These are my “best of” home memories, “the way they were.”

First home, early childhood in a multi-ethnic Chicago apartment complex where our playgrounds were asphalt and concrete, alleyways sandwiched between brick buildings, underground storage basements and a large empty, weed prairie. I always dreamed of having a real backyard with flowerbeds like my aunt’s old Chicago house in South Shore.

Best memory: climbing the advertising billboard's wooden scaffolds on the State Street side of the prairie to get a great view of sparks flying when the boys threw cans on the streetcar tracks, a game for city kids.

Second home, teen years in the south suburbs of Chicago, in working class Dolton, where we finally had a yard where my mother hung the wash to dry on a clothesline that doubled as our theatre curtain, a blanket attached with clothespins, for our backyard plays.

Best memory: the fir tree my mother planted that grew taller than our house and became a giant Xmas tree every winter that we lit for all to see.

In my married home 20’s to mid 30’s in Eureka, a central Illinois bedroom community of churchgoing gentlemen farmers, home was a rambling farmhouse that we modernized on our semi-timbered five acres adjacent to neighbors who rode their horses past the cornfields up the road.

Best memory: my young children playing in a tree, one in the big tire swing and the other in the crook of the tree.

Second best memory: growing a vegetable garden for the first time and preparing the homegrown produce for my family and putting fresh cut flowers on the table from my own backyard.

My home on a cul-de-sac in Falls Church, VA, where some nights the sky was a planetarium with constellations that shone brightly as crickets serenaded us on a summer evening.

Best memory: watching our beloved cat, Frisky, roll around in the ivy while I rested lazily with a book in the hammock slung between two giant White Oak trees.

Last home in an apartment townhome in Marina del Rey overlooking the channel, watching the moon play on the water with the shimmering lights of boats and distant planes looking like UFOs blocking the stars as they descended into LAX.

Best memory: walking the boardwalk piers between the slips of the anchored sailboats and yachts during a crimson sunset, almost as much pleasure as strolling the beach a few blocks away.

Home today in a condo overlooking a former golf course in Phoenix.

Best memory: drinking my morning coffee while I watch a hummingbird pause for a sweet drink at the feeder just above the orange tree.

All of the home bookmarks are where I felt centered. They are the places that are always with me and are the “best of” memories.

Copyright © Erana Leiken, 2009 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Tree photo by Sue Byford
Hummingbird photo by Tiffany Clark


  1. Hi - saw your entry on BlogCatalog and thought I'd stop by.

    Nice to read you - this was an interesting insight. I will stop by again if that's okay? :)

  2. Your article reminded me of some of my fav memories!
    I'm following you now,I hope you will reciprocate.

  3. Beautiful memories. I really enjoyed reading them. It is nice to remember where we were's got me thinking.

    Thanks much!

  4. Erana,
    I came back to read this again. I remember my childhood home, which my brother lives in now -- it's not my parent's home anymore it belongs to my brother and his wife. I also remember my home in Hawaii -- oh the weather:-) Now I live in the townhouse I bought all by myself. It is pleasant to sit on my patio and read the morning paper while Sammy, my puppy chews up my azaleas. Thanks for reminding me of how important it is to have a home.

  5. Erana, I so enjoyed all your posts, but this topic really sucked me in, as I lived so many places growing up. I teach writing workshops (Amherst Writers & Artists method), and I plan to use this idea in my next workshop (next week). I know my writers will love it. I'll let you know how it turns out. Hope you'll visit my site, too:

  6. Are you sure that picture wasn't taken in our backyard in Eureka?? It looks EXACTLY the same.
    Wish I had Friskie by my side now. :)

  7. Glad you enjoyed...more to come:)