#WhereILivedWednesday with Ann Imig of Ann’s Rants

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241 East Livingston Place.

No one had ever lived there before us. It was a clean slate; a brand new house that smelled of paint and possibility. I was 11 when we moved in.

There was a pea gravel driveway and Dad liked lots of lush landscaping: liriope (though we called it “monkey grass”), ligustrums, palm trees, birch trees, and dogwoods.

We put in a pool in the backyard. One night Mom roused us from our cozy beds. Apparently the entire frog population of southeastern Louisiana had migrated to our freshly dug pit, not yet plastered. It seemed they were either very chatty with one another or it was mating season. Either way, we used brooms and rakes to coax them into garbage cans. We walked the cans down to the ditch at the end of the next block and introduced them to their new home so we could finally sleep.

There were railroad tracks nearby. At first the trains and their whistles bothered me; I stared at the ceiling at night, watching my fan go round and round. I started having irrational fears and stopped sleeping. Mom was a trooper. She’d come in my room and talk to me, sometimes rub my back for awhile to help me fall asleep.

We had a brass mail slot in the front door. Darby, our Yorkshire Terrier, ripped up the mail as it came in, shredding it to pieces if we weren’t there to rescue it first. We’d come home to a pile of torn up envelopes, flyers and paper, wet with doggie drool.

The unfinished third floor became our attic. Steep steps led up to a small area that became the backdrop for a Magellan video, a history assignment I had in seventh grade. Lori, Cecilia, Genevieve and I sweated like mad and put together a silly script. I played Barbara Walters, wearing a pale pink dress with shoulder pads that belonged to my mom. Lori took the role of Magellan, sporting a funny-smelling old man mask we had. One of my parents tilted the video camera from side to side to emulate a rolling ship at sea.

My room had dark green, almost turquoise carpet and light pink paint on the walls. I remember sitting on the floor, still in my red plaid uniform skirt, cutting myself for the first time. I was maybe 12 or 13 years old.

I cried in that room when I had a fight with my best friend. We stopped speaking to one other for a long time. It was rough. Rougher than I let on to anyone.

Sometimes late at night, I’d crawl under my bed to talk to my few friends on the phone. Being under there helped muffle the noise of my voice, because I wasn’t supposed to be up that late, or be tying up the phone for that long (pre-call waiting, a-hem).

I had my own bathroom (one of the advantages of being the only girl). Back then I showered and washed my hair every day (funny how that’s changed). In the small cabinet underneath my sink I had a set of tall, skinny pink & purple rollers and a crimping iron. And some Studio Line from L’Oréal products.

I remember running up to my room after the family meeting we had when my parents told us they were getting divorced. I grabbed my phone with shaking hands and dialed number after number until I got someone on the line. I made plans to leave and grabbed my backpack and a jacket out of my closet. I knew somehow that nothing would be the same when I returned. I looked around at my stuff and thought about how different things look after tragedy hits.

We moved into 241 East Livingston Place as a nuclear family. We left fragmented and a little frayed around the edges.

Want to join the fun? Head over to Ann’s blog on the last Wednesday of every month for the Where I Lived Wednesday linkup!

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  • Ann Imig

    I love this, Erin. Would kill to see that video.

    • http://www.erinmargolin.com/ Erin Margolin

      Thank you, Ann. I’m actually looking around for a place here that will copy the VHS to a DVD. I’m afraid to play it one more time, the tape might break! LOL

  • Arnebya

    I’m totally going to do this next week. I often ride by the apartment my husband and I shared pre-children. I wish I knew what was going on there now. But I’m kind of creepy with it: I want to SEE what they’re doing. Where’s their sofa? Do they use the fireplace? DID THEY GET THE LIGHTBULB OUT OF THE TOILET?

    • http://www.erinmargolin.com/ Erin Margolin

      Arnebya,

      LOL, I know what you mean! I was in New Orleans last week and part of me wanted to drive by this house. And the other part of me couldn’t. I didn’t end up doing it. But I do wonder what it’s like inside now. I’m fairly certain my walls are no longer pink. xxoo

  • http://aladyinfrance.com/ Lady Jennie

    You are really such a good writer Erin. You bring all the small details to life as if we are all there observing.

    • http://www.erinmargolin.com/ Erin Margolin

      Jennie,

      Thank you, love. I’m sorry it’s taken me three weeks to reply to everyone here. I’ve been treading water, trying to keep my head above. I hope the BonBonBooks chat went well last night, I popped in at the beginning and did a few RTs, and then the kids dragged me down. ;-(

  • http://www.about100percent.com/ Andrea

    This was vivid and heartbreaking, Erin. Your writing just keeps getting better and better. xoxo

    • http://www.erinmargolin.com/ Erin Margolin

      Andrea,

      I officially win the award for taking the longest to respond to comments on a post. #fail Thank you for your sweet words about my writing. I just really need to hone in, hunker down, and commit to it more fully. xoxo

  • Tara_pohlkottepress

    love the details of this that brought me right into your home with you. growing up I lived by a house by the train tracks… when I moved out on my own states away and I called home, when I would hear the whistle on the call, it was enough to make me cry… it’s still a sound that reminds me of home.

    • http://www.erinmargolin.com/ Erin Margolin

      Tara,

      Thank you so much. And yes, missing the whistles of the trains was something I took for granted once I finally adjusted to hearing them…and now whenever I hear one, it reminds me of this house. I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to reply to these comments. Life’s been a little…crazy. But I appreciate your stopping by and reading my words. hugs.

  • A Grace Full Life

    OMG Studio Line by Loreal smelled FANFLIPPINTASTIC.
    See, that’s what I comment on.
    It did.
    Smell fanflippintastic.

    • http://www.erinmargolin.com/ Erin Margolin

      Grace Full Life,

      I know!! I also was just thinking about another shampoo I loved, I want to say it started with an F and it was in a blue bottle. Crap! Finesse, maybe? Oh, and Salon Selectives shampoo? Smelled like apples? Did you ever use that? ;-)

  • http://www.nottherockefellers.blogspot.com Rene Foran

    this was perfect, Erin.

    • http://www.erinmargolin.com/ Erin Margolin

      Thank you, Rene. That means a lot! Apologies for the super tardy replies to comments. Life has sort of gotten in the way. I appreciate your stopping by to read. ;-)

  • Zakary W.

    Love, love, love.

    • http://www.erinmargolin.com/ Erin Margolin

      Thank you, Zakary! Sending you some LTYM love & that’s the only excuse I have for being this late to reply. xo

  • Kim@Co-Pilot Mom

    This is so vivid, Erin. I could see your room and imagine you on the phone late into the night – I did that too, in those pre-call waiting days.

    • http://www.erinmargolin.com/ Erin Margolin

      Thank you, Kim. How did we ever live without call waiting? And what’s worse is that we were among the last people to get it because my dad felt it was rude to put people on hold. ;-)

  • http://decksidethoughts.blogspot.com Cheryl

    How incredibly painful, Erin. I lived in one of those houses and I don’t think I’ll ever write about that one. (As someone who’s been around since pre-single party line phones, a lot of this made me smile because what seemed antiquated to you is still relatively new to me.)

    • http://www.erinmargolin.com/ Erin Margolin

      Thank you for taking the time to read and comment, Cheryl. I’m so sorry it’s taken me so long to get around to replies. Things on the home front have been a little crazy. And yes…the phones! I shared something on Facebook a few weeks ago — some people took a group of young kids and showed them a rotary phone & asked them questions about it. It was hilarious!

  • Lori Popkewitz Alper

    I think my room was similar colors. I loved that room. My kids would kill for those frogs! Crazy how many things can happen under one roof. Beautifully written Erin.

    • http://www.erinmargolin.com/ Erin Margolin

      Thank you so much, Lori. Apologies for the late reply. I’m glad you had a pink and green room, too! I cringe thinking of it now!

  • Galit Breen

    So many stories inside a home. You told this one perfectly, poignantly.

    • http://www.erinmargolin.com/ Erin Margolin

      Thank you, sweet Galit. Must get back to blogging soon. I love this link up. xo

  • http://writingwishing.com/ Alison

    Such vivid memories, Erin. Bittersweet. You wrote it all so beautifully.

    • http://www.erinmargolin.com/ Erin Margolin

      Thank you, Alison! Thinking about you & sending you and those babies love! xo

  • http://unintentionallybrilliant.blogspot.com Roxanne Piskel

    The detail here is incredible. Thank you for sharing this bit of your history with us.

    • http://www.erinmargolin.com/ Erin Margolin

      Rox,
      I can’t believe how long it’s taken me to reply. Thanks for reading! Hope you’ll join in next time!