Where did you live at age five? Is it the same place or town you live now?
At age 5 I was living alone with my mom in a teeny tiny little house in a teeny tiny little town called Bozrah, Connecticut. For the first five or six years my mom and I lived by ourselves, then by the time I was in first grade we moved in with my grandparents and great-grandmother in Salem, where I lived until after I graduated high school and moved out.
I don’t have many memories of that house other than it was very small. Two adults couldn’t fit comfortably in the kitchen, we had a claw-foot porcelain tub that was deep enough for me to do flips in (the tub I’ve wanted in my bathroom ever since), and we had a burnt-orange corduroy couch left over from the seventies.
I remember the staircase was a narrow, glorified ladder that curved as it ascended. There were two tiny bedrooms, but the only thing I remember being in my bedroom was my toy box, and the inside of it smelled like wood glue and dust. I remember that was the bedroom where I played with my Teddy Ruxpin, which got for my 3rd birthday in 1985.
I also have this strange memory of my mom and I having a picnic one summer day on the back lawn of that house. I remember a blanket spread on the ground and we had a bag of chips and some other food I guess, but I only remember the chips. I remember my mom asked me to spread baby oil on her back – she was wearing a bathing suit, and she said she was “getting her sun.”
I asked my mom some years ago while in the midst of lathering Elise with half a gallon of sunscreen, did she really put BABY OIL on her skin before going out in the sun?
“Oh yeah,” she told me. “That’s how you got great tans back in the 80s, before we knew about skin cancer!”
You are invited to a party that will be attended by many fascinating people you never met. Would you attend this party if you were to go by yourself?
I think I would actually be more inclined to go to a party such as this if I could go by myself. If don’t see myself as the kind of person to go to a party like this, so if I were given the opportunity, I would probably want to behave in a way that is not myself, which would be much easier to do alone than with an audience. Also, to make people jealous. Also, so that if I embarrass myself there will be no witnesses.
Did you grow up in a small or big town? Did you like it?
I grew up in a teeny tiny town called Salem, Connecticut. The current population is a little over 4,000 but it was probably much lower than that when I was growing up there. For instance, the elementary school was for Kindergarten through eight grade, and my graduating class had a whopping 52 students. We went to East Lyme High School in the neighboring town because Salem just wasn’t big enough to justify building its own high school. And it still isn’t.
It’s the kind of town where everyone pretty much knows everyone else’s business, even though probably half the people in town live in the deep woods down private driveways surrounded by heavy tree cover. I’m saying, you can’t go out for a gallon of milk without your hair done because you WILL see a few people you know wherever you go in town.
Except, there really isn’t anywhere to go in town anymore. We used to have a video rental store but that closed a decade or so ago right around the time Netflix changed our lives. There’s a pizza restaurant, and it’s four bar stools by the register count as the only “bar” in town, where they only serve a few varieties of beer and wine. You used to only be able to get coffee at “Ed & Dawns,” our little general stored owned by, well, you can guess. An actual petition to the city council finally got Salem their first Dunkin Donuts a few years ago, and Salemites and travelers through the void rejoiced! The Salem Valley Farms “Ice Cream Barn” is the hoppin’est place in town. There are two gas stations. Since they installed a rotary at the four corners a few years ago, Salem has a total of ONE stoplight. Salem has a hell of butcher – it’s Elise’s uncle Sean, at Prime Cuts, which she calls the cow factory. I couldn’t even make this up.
Did I like it?
I hated it when it was growing up. I wanted nothing more than to escape, and I did as soon as I could.
Now that I have Elise, I would do anything to be able to afford to go back. I see now, in hindsight, that a child really couldn’t have a better place in the whole world to grow up than in that perfect little town.
As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
From what I can remember, in chronological order:
A farmer. An Olympic Swimmer. An Olympic figure skater. An astronaut (this one lasted years, and now that NASA has retired the shuttles, I’m feeling very upset, like, now I KNOW this will never happen). A dancer. A singer. A music teacher. A writer. A writer. A writer. A writer. A writer.
I’m participating in Cee’s Sharing Your World Blogging Challenge and loving the weekly Q & A!