An apartment. Just my dad and me. Christmas on a budget. Kitchen big enough for one. First steps, first words, many firsts I don’t remember.
A house. A little one. Only one bedroom and filled to the brim with junk. Mom’s stuff, sister’s stuff, brother’s stuff, my stuff. Mostly Mom’s enormous collection of Precious Moments and art supplies she rarely uses. Some school things collected over the years from all of her children: poems, certificates, and paint projects. A mattress in the middle of the living room for siblings when they stay over. Another mattress lays in the bedroom for Mom and I to share. Dad’s working hard, driving a truck over the road, I rarely see him anymore. A covered patio is filled with boxes on boxes: toys, old appliances, and gardening tools that will never get used. Piles for me to climb on, trying to climb to the tops of the palm trees.
A trailer home, but you could hardly tell. A double wide that has a yard with prickly bushes that hurt when you touch them. It looks like a cute old couple lives there, and that’s almost right, until Papa died from lung cancer that is. It was my grandmother’s house, but my mother, me, and sometimes sister (depending on the day), lived there too. Two bedrooms. One just for Grandma, and occasionally me when Mom worked the night shift at Shell, or when we didn’t know where she was at all but hoped she’d be home soon. Another for the rest of us to share. Our room had two beds. One for my angst filled sister, the other for Mom and me. When my sister was home, she watched MTV all the time. A lamp between our beds was of Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh, next to it a small statue of an angel. At night before we went to bed, Mom and I would look at each other and say, “I love you to infinity and beyond,” and she’d tell me to put on my zapatos before going to church in the morning. Our living room, like most, consisted of a couch and yet another TV. Grandma liked to watch Jeopardy, and sometimes I got away with watching Rugrats. Then there was the kitchen, my favorite place, where Grandma made taquitos from scratch and sometimes I got to help. I had to stand back in case the oil popped, but I got to help cook the shredded beef and wrap the tortillas. A dining room table where we all sat around, saying grace, smiling, laughing, and feeding scraps to our dog, Patches. The covered garage I used as my playground, where my rocking horse lived and my plastic red wagon too. Where I had tea parties with our gray cat Ripit whose name was the reason she lived outside. A backyard, where my teenaged brother taught me how to ride a bike, and where I went on bear hunts. A trail, just outside the house, my sister took to get to her secret tree house where the woods had trees that had branches that hung down to cover the entrance and a swing that when you swung hard enough took you right over the edge of a cliff and you could see the houses below and I felt like I was flying. Mom and I walked everywhere, because all the best places were just around the corner. My favorite home, where I was mostly happy, and Mom was too. When life seemed really good.
A house. Big. A large front garden and even bigger back yard. The house was an ugly brown, but the large orange poppies, pink peonies, and trees everywhere made up for it. It had four bedrooms. Two up and two down. Enough space for everyone to have a room to themselves. My dad, grandmother, grandfather, and me. A town where I knew almost no one, where snow fell right in front of my eyes, but I’m only going to see my mom on holidays. I’m told Mom makes bad decisions and that I’ve been “saved”. A place of many more firsts: first crush, first boyfriend, first teenage breakdown, first bout of depression, and probably the first time I laughed until I cried. Least favorite house, where I felt sad or angry, but where I was usually just okay.
Holli Kellogg is originally from Murrieta, California, but she has lived in Colorado most of her life. She attends Colorado State University where she is getting a bachelors degree in creative writing as well as a degree in theatre performance. Her short story “Sisterhood” has been published in the literary journal, The Plains Paradox, and her short story “The Lucky Club Motel” was published on the Same, as well as was a finalist for Narrative’s 30 Below contest. Connect with her on Twitter @hollikellogg