Tuesday, May 06, 2014

First love


Ah, as the Porch winds down, and a lifetime of memories dribbles out in a stuttering stream of typos, it occurs to me that there is one secret that hasn't crossed my mind in 70 years.

I grew up in a house in Chattanooga, Tennessee, that my parents built in 1941. It was a fine two-story house, on a suburban street, with acres of woods and ponds and streams behind to play in. But it's indoors I'm thinking of now. A door off the closet in my bedroom led to an unfinished attic storage space under the roof. From there a tiny pitch black crawl space led under a dormer into another unlit attic space accessible only to a skinny seven or eight year old. And there, unknown to anyone but me, I had a shrine to Betty D., my first love. Nothing more, really, than a couple of Brownie snapshots lit by the votive glow of a flashlight, but worthy of secret worship in their own adored way.

The house was sold long ago. I wonder if the shrine is still intact. Perhaps one of my brave little sisters discovered it after I left home, and dismantled it, but I doubt they would have slithered into that dark space. The house is still there, according to Google Street View. And perhaps Betty D. is still there too, as cute as a button, her photos faded, but somehow enveloped with more pre-adolescent affection than any Instagram, and more enduring too.