I was very little when our family still had this house. It belonged to my grandmother and grandfather—grammy and gramp, Toni and Buzz—and was a cacophonous and loving place. My grandmother had a garden as big as central park with pine trees the size of redwoods. She and I would place dollhouse furniture in the periwinkle and rhododendrons for the fairies to use. My big brother Julian and my cousin Chase used to make a game of trapping bees in their hands and sprinting to the pool to submerge their prisoners; I guess you won if you didn’t get stung.
The front of the house was enormous and alabaster white, the size of a castle. There were thousands of holidays and celebrations held in the house, and I was never old enough to leave the kids table when it was still ours. Rare was a quiet moment: constant poker games, or football games, or hide-and-go-seek; there were aunts and uncles and cousins and grandparents and parents and dogs everywhere.
There’s an image in my mind of being in this place that is entirely at odds with everything else I remember about it: I remember being completely alone in the house. I can see the upstairs hallway, dark and cool, as if all the shades had been drawn against the heat. I peek into bedrooms to see neatly made-up beds in the darkness. I’m standing here in this hallway, and it feels like it stretches for miles. With my eyes shut I can almost make it out, but the edges are blurry and everything fades to black if I try to get close to examine it. I’m not afraid, and sometimes in my memory my big brother is with me, holding my hand. It feels like I’m looking for the adults. I’m walking along and everything is quiet.
It feels like it happened, but I can’t be sure.