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Sunday, March 1, 2009

Nana's House

This is a memory of my Nana's house. She passed away in 1987, when I was 17 years old.

It was just your standard wooden-slatted house with its pale pink paint chipped on the corners. What it lacked in beauty, however, it made up for with the love bursting its seams from the inside.
I recall the butterflies in my tummy as my worn, brown leather sandals clip-clopped hurriedly up the concrete sidewalk to Nana's thick, green wooden door.
I would dart through the heavily painted, Listerine green living room, glancing at the wood encased, black and white television that always seemed to be blaring baseball statistics to an empty room.  
My roaming eyes see for the hundredth time the six foot couches that were covered in Nana's hand-knitted, brightly colored blankets. The couches had been turned to the television as if in reverence to it.
I glance over the formal black and white poses on the mantel of my dad and uncle in their military uniforms, stern looks on their youthful faces.  My aunt stares back in a faux white fur and string of pearls forever frozen in time as a young teenager.
I quickly peek inside the tiny guest bedroom where I am to stay.  Four oversized dressers are packed into the tiny space, one right next to the other.  Next to the door, the Queen-sized bed
is trying desperately to claim its rightful space.  Later, I would go through every single drawer, knowing that they were packed to the hilt with everything one could wish for from the Avon catalog.  The room would be filled with the aroma of cheap musks and floral bouquets when I was finished with them.
I run from the guest room to the living room and stop in my tracks in the kitchen.  The smell of my favorite foods fills my nostrils.  I tiptoe over to the ancient oven, stretch myself up on the ends of my toes, and peer into the oversized pot on the stove.  The smell of garlic stings my nose and makes my mouth water.
Grandpa sighs loudly from his overstuffed chair in what should have been the breakfast nook, but instead has long ago claimed as Grandpa's domain.  He complains with a smile and a fake stern look that he hasn't gotten his hug yet.  I run over and jump up on the arm of his chair and throw my arms around his thick neck.  I inhale the comforting smell of White Owl Cigars coming from his hair and flannel shirt.  
I immediately notice the fire burning in the old-fashioned wood stove that sits right next tot he oven.  I run over and open the top burner to peek in and wince when the hot metal comes in contact with my sensitive fingers.
Nana scurries in and piles a plate high with my favorite foods.  The aroma of onions, garlic, and tender, marinated pork overwhelms me.  I devour five lumpias, crunching through their thin, tortilla-like wrappings with vigor.  I can't get enough pansit; the soft, see-through noodles slide down my throat, barely touching my tongue.  I finish by drinking my milk in a long, greedy gulp, and settle back in my chair with a satisfied sigh.  
I make the mistake of waving my burnt fingers in front of Nana. She frowns, then quickly opens her heavily stocked medicine cabinet.  There are strange looking bottles lurking inside.  There are some with white stickers and foreign words on them, and some brightly colored boxes with cartoons.
She pulls out a burgundy colored bottle the size of her thumb, and I groan. She brings the tip out and paints red liquid on my burns.  It stings, and a tear quickly appears, then fades away as she wraps my finger in a Flinstone band-aid.  She pats me on the head and sends me outside to play.
I run down the steps to the fenced in plot of dirt called the backyard.  I open the gate that is as tall as me, and go into the vegetable garden.  Squash, zucchini, green beans, tomatoes, and corn surround me on all sides.  Nana yells through the kitchen screen that she'll pay me a penny for each green bean that I pick.  With dollar signs in my eyes, I pull green beans off the vine for what seems like an eternity.  When I am tired, I run inside and dump them unceremoniously on the table.  Nana counts them, and gives me two shiny new quarters.
Towards evening, I get sleepy, but try really hard not to let Nana know.  I want to stay up late and snuggle on her lap watching tv in the living room.  I accidentally yawn, and Nana cradles me in her arms and carries me to the oversized bed in the guest bedroom.  She balances me in one arm as she pulls back six thick blankets of various colors and textures.  I crawl on top of the crisp clean sheets, and she pulls up blanket after blanket under my chin, until I feel imprisoned by the weight. 
After a few hours of tossing and turning, I wake up sweating profusely and with blood running down my  nose.  I run to the bathroom with my head tilted back so the blood doesn't fall on the carpet, and feel around the bathroom for the toilet paper.  I tear a piece off, twist it tightly, and push it in my nose.  I decide to go to sleep next to Nana in her bed, so I gingerly walk through the other makeshift bedroom, tiptoe over the hot grates of the floor heater that groans when I step on it, and feel my way over to Nana's side of the bed.  My hands touch the three kitchen chairs that are precisely laid out next to Nana on her side of the bed.  I climb on top of them, finding a blanket and pillow set out for me, and fall asleep on the hard chairs happy and content.
It was just your standard wooden-slatted house with its pale pink paint chipped on the corners. What it lacked in beauty, however, it made up for with the love bursting its seams from the inside.