Trying new things
Three houses

People I have known: Lisa

My grandparents started out owning two lots in their neighborhood. They built a house on one, but eventually sold the other and a house was built on it by someone else. By the time I had any awareness of it, it was a rental. People came and went, but for a while there was a family who lived there. An older son - I think his name was Steve - a middle daughter, Lisa, and a younger son, Kenny.

Lisa was two years older than I. I used to go to my grandfather's garden in the backyard and wish really hard for Lisa to come outside. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn't. The fence between the two properties was just wire and it was easy enough to slip through, finally off on an adventure. Some of the other kids in the neighborhood didn't like Lisa. I'm not sure why - they told me not to hang out with her, that she was trouble.

Maybe they knew something about her I didn't, but what I remember was helping her with her paper route. Wrapping up the papers, putting a rubber band around them, and then riding my bike behind her as she delivered them. I remember sneaking into the pool at the apartment complex down the street on hot summer days. If asked, I was to say she was my sister and she would tell them which apartment we lived in.

I thought Lisa was beautiful. Straight dark hair with bangs. Cute little freckles on her nose. In 1978, I wanted straight hair and freckles on my nose. My stupid wavy hair never stayed behind my ears.

Renee and Lisa

That's Renee on the left and Lisa on the right. On the back of the photo it says March 1979.

I don't remember anything about her parents, except that someone (her dad?) traveled out of the country and brought back a box of chocolate-covered ants and grasshoppers. We all sat around the kitchen and grossed out over them.

One day, my brother and I went into Lisa's house. Her older brother had just made his closet into a shrine to KISS. There was a record player playing loudly and the closet walls were covered in tin foil and posters. I'd seen KISS on TV and thought they were scary, so I was nervous right away. When Steve stabbed a knife through the wall from the outside of the closet barely missing my brother, I grabbed him and ran. I remember purposely not going in the house again if I knew Steve was home.

Eventually the family moved. I missed them terribly. Lisa was often around when I was the most lonely; she hung out with me when the other kids in the neighborhood couldn't or wouldn't. Just like Ivy, I've looked for her around the internet, on Facebook. Haven't found her, and I wonder where and how she is.

When I think of Lisa, I see stars. Stars from the 70s - bicentennial stars painted on her cheeks. I don't know why. I see stars on her cheeks and the wind blowing in her long hair as she's riding her bike, trying to get home before the sun sets. When I think of Lisa, I think of everything that was cool about being a kid in the 70s.

Comments

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Jude Cowell

Great writing, Maya!

Hope you find Lisa (and thanks for 'telling' me about the knife incident.) i knew i didn't like KISS for Some reason that had nothing to do with rock'n'roll...

Alexis

Lovely.

Lisa looks like the ideal '70's girl in that picture. How I wanted that stick straight hair, like Valerie Bertinelli as Barbara Cooper!

Tina

So very touching and I truly hope you find her!

Donny Seagraves

Excellent post, Maya. I have memories, too, of your mom and I playing on the lot that eventually became the yard of that house you're talking about. I think I remember us playing on remnants of the original house Agnes and Agnes lived in, which was on that part of their land. They also owned land on the other side of their Springtree Road house when they first moved there. I think it went all the way to the end of the block originally. Later, as Albert sold that land, it became the place where Uncle Jack and Aunt Lillian built their house and the Edens and others, I think. One thing I distinctly remember about the lot you're talking about is the huge and beautiful Mimosa trees we used to play under and climb. And one summer day, Albert dug a big hole in the ground by the walk to the back porch. He filled it with water and for a day or two, until the mosquitoes found it, your mom and I had a cool and refreshing swimming pool.

Gayle

Maya, I've missed your beautiful writing. (Seeing your beautiful yarn is a treat, though!) I remember your post about Ivy and every once in a while I wonder if you have found her.

cmv

a wonderful picture, a beautiful post! thank you for sharing it!

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