Self Expression Magazine


By Colecrane @cole_crane

I grew up in a pink house. Living in a pink house won’t guarantee you much, but it will teach you optimism.

When I traveled to Costa Rica to visit my dad’s friend, I noticed something about the houses just outside Turrialba. They were bright, almost iridescent, and more like petrified jungle creatures than dwellings. Brilliant blues, peacock purples, sea-foam greens. Although the people who lived in them tended to be poor, they were generous beyond their means. Twice, strangers welcomed my family into their houses for meals after we greeted them on the road. Their optimism danced in every bean and plantain they prepared.

For some kids, it’s hard to understand how good you have it. I didn’t see how hard my parents worked for my benefit, nor could I have fully grasped what it meant had I witnessed it. My relatively privileged life became my equilibrium. What cause did I have to question the circumstances of my life, so shot through with opportunity?

My nickname, in the beginning, was Buddha. I liked luxurious things—feta cheese, fur rugs—and I was tubby. After two years, when my sister was born, I morphed into Abo. Abo was short for aborigine. I walked around the backyard lot, spurning any attempt by my mother to clothe me, and played with dirt. My first order of business was watering the soil. Then, I’d fashion mountains and valleys, plucking foliage from trees and weeds from cracks to stuff in the wet ground. I rounded off my faintly Biblical project by placing dinosaur toys in the idyll before flooding the scene once more. I realize now that I never needed sunblock because my whole body was caked with mud.

From the backyard, where I would be hosed off like a mischievous dog, I traveled through a hallway that we used as a laundry room, into the kitchen. Most of the picture-taking of me as a baby happened here. The kitchen had linoleum floors and a little dining nook that looked south out to our driveway and west out to a park.

The park played a big role in each one of my fantasies as a young kid. It had a big expanse of grass and three 100-year old oak trees, a relatively modest swingset and a treated concrete slide above a bed of sand. Most importantly, it was right next door. I could play there whenever I wanted to. The ditty played by the ice cream truck quickly became one of the lasting refrains of childhood. My adoration changed as I got older. Soon after my Dutch nanny was ticketed for topless-sunbathing in the park, I switched allegiances. The park became sorely common, a refuge for people who were boring or mean. When I imagined being abducted, the crime scene was the park. When I imagined being robbed, the plotting originated in the park.

The breakfast nook was adjoined to the dining room, where my parents kept a lot of their nice stuff. Here, I remember watching my mom install earthquake latches onto cabinets to protect Meissen porcelain and Cambridge glass. An antique cocktail shaker showed up one birthday, set elegantly on a pewter tray; Japanese prints materialized on Christmas. Three or four days a year, usually on holidays, we would set the table and eat with a fire purring in the background. Otherwise, playing in this room was taboo.

The back room was the kids’ den. I can’t tell you how many hours of Scooby-Doo and Angels in the Outfield I watched, enthralled by the voodoo spell of the television. Had my parents not forbidden TV on weekdays, I wouldn’t have had as many reasons to learn how to the break the rules. Maybe every child practices deception; and if not deception, entitlement. I know that I was especially adept at forging my mom’s signature when a bad test that had to be signed by a parent came back to me. I was not especially adept at stealing money—my dad accidentally caught me pilfering on camera after a freak hailstorm distracted the rest of the family—but it’s the effort that counts. I credit my early cunning to that law against TV.

My room was on the northernmost tip of the upper floor. I began playing in my room in ernest after Legos became popular. I would sit on a rug at the base of my bed, my Legos strewn about in a three-foot radius, and build. I didn’t have an eye for originality, but I was good with directions and fastidious about design continuity. I didn’t like black castles with red-drawbridges, or different aesthetics mixing. When I was older, I’d noodle around on a bass, then a guitar, but never seriously. I did get serious about books in high school. I slept with hundreds of books before I slept with a girl.

My home still belongs to my parents. They have lived there a quarter of a century. A driveway, pulling up to a garage with an attic, rests on the south side of the home. On the top floor, two gables frame westerly-looking windows. The roof is shingled. A brick chimney climbs two stories from its base on the side of the house. A veranda half the width of the house leads up to the front door. The door is white. The house is pink.

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