In spite of how sweet and shy and timid I was as a child, I was still considered a brat. An” Air Force brat” that is. Seriously, where did that term come from? It’s not very flattering is it? Children in military families don’t need that bad rap! I had plenty of other things to concern my pre-teen self with other than the “brat” rep! Things like how long it might be until my dad was transferred again? Would I like my new school? Would I have any friends there? Would our next house be big enough for me to have my own room? Would my old friends call me or write letters? (For any youngsters reading this little blog post, a “letter” was something sort of like a text message or an email. Except we used a pen or pencil and paper. Stamps and the Post Office were also involved, but I won’t bore you with those details right now!) We moved alot and I had to consider these concerns often during my childhood. We always lived in modest but very comfortable homes . From the trailer park in Florida, base housing in North Carolina to that house on Austin Drive in Arkansas, each home held special memories. But only one was my favorite.
That house on Austin Drive!
Oh it was spectacular. We moved into this house right before I turned 13….at least I think that’s how old I was. I’ve slept a few times since then! My first memory in this house happened the day we moved in. My parents had hired a moving company so strangers were moving our things. As I stood in the foyer of the house giving directions on where this box should be placed and where exactly the master bedroom was, I overheard a conversation between two of the moving guys. The gist of the conversation was the enormous length of our back hallway. It was indeed brag worthy! After living in many smaller houses, we were finally living in a house with 4 bedrooms ! As far as I was concerned, this house was practically a mansion. The hallway connecting those 4 glorious rooms was quite long indeed!
My own bedroom! Finally!! After years of sharing a room with either of my sisters, I would finally have my own 4 walls on which to hang my Shaun Cassidy and Donny Osmond posters! My own 4 walls in which to have private phone conversations with my best friend! My own space to have dozens of friends over for slumber parties! I wouldn’t have to clean up or even look at the mess my sister would leave because I had MY OWN FOUR WALLS!!!
The neighborhood was also nice. There were actual 2 story houses on our street! As an adult that sounds like a ridiculous thing to be excited about, but in my pre-teen mind, the existence of houses with more than one level in MY neighborhood meant only one thing. We had “arrived”. Even more proof of our “arrival” was our next door neighbor. An English teacher from the high school I would soon attend lived next door to us. I could see her house from my bedroom window. I ended up having my teacher neighbor for 10th grade English. She was the only person alive who made me appreciate Shakespeare! Thank goodness I liked her. There could’ve been many awkward moments at home if I didn’t. She was also the only person I knew at the time who knew a real live famous person. With my teenage obsession with teen idols and movie stars, this was a very impressive teacher fact for me! This teachers “claim to fame” was that she taught Mary Steenburgen 10th grade English. Of course, I stole her claim to fame and now it’s mine. Have you heard? Mary Steenburgen and I had the same English teacher! I still think about that whenever I see her in a movie. And yes, I do still annoy my family with the no longer new news that Mary and I have something in common! It doesn’t take much to impress this girl!
I’ve long since moved away from that house on Austin Drive. I haven’t laid eyes on it since we moved away in 1979. So out of curiosity, I plugged my old address into my Google search bar . And there it was. Can houses take bad pictures?? Because what I saw wasn’t near as glorious as I remembered it being in the late 70’s. The front of the house was hidden behind large trees. The bald spots in the front yard would have my parents gracing the front door of Home Depot quicker than I could say “Hey did you hear…” The landscaping was not as beautiful as I remember. The door wasn’t the right color. So many differences from what my teenage eyes saw.
Memories get fuzzy, don’t they? Perspectives change. As I look at the reality of that beloved home 35 years later, it’s still a nice home. The family who lives there now is blessed. But it’s not the mansion my preteen self thought it to be. I wonder if God was working even back then on giving me a desire for a “mansion”. Was he filling me with HOPE that one day I would indeed grace the steps of my very own mansion?
John 14:1-2 (KJV) talks about this...”Let not your heart be troubled;you believe in God, believe also in Me. In my Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so , I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.”
I’ve lived in many nice homes throughout my life but in first world views, not one of them has been a mansion. Yes, my soul longs for that mansion I’ve been promised and I do believe one day I’ll be there. Will it have Shaun Cassidy posters hanging on the wall? Will my friends join me there for parties? Will the hallway be extra long? Oh I hope so….
Well, I’ll be OK if the Shaun Cassidy poster is missing!