Urban Power Couples? Not on my street.

*Note: this post is part of a 20-day writing prompt 101 program I’m participating in. Today’s Prompt: “Where did you live when you were 12 years old? Today’s twist: pay attention to your sentence lengths and use short, medium, and long sentences.”

Growing up old school… (image courtesy of tor00722 at freedigitalimages.net)

Urban Power Couples live here. According to a real estate website I recently came across, my old neighborhood in Seattle is now rife with Urban Power Couples.

Times have changed. In 1981, the only Urban Power Couples on my street were perhaps those living next door to an electrical power panel. You wouldn’t find any corporate ladders – just practical ones for the brave DIY-er dads who took on their own home repairs. Fast tracks? Nah. My parents left the house at 9 and made it home in time for the 6 o’clock news, Monday to Friday. Anything that didn’t get done could wait. No email. No checking messages. No “I’m busy, tell me later” responses to our tales of acing a spelling test or scraping a knee. Just a couple of hardworking small business owners who valued time with their tweens (me) and teens (my older brother and sister).

Our house looked like most others sprinkled up and down Valmay Avenue: shingled or brick siding, 1930s vintage, mossy lawns, a station wagon in the driveway. But inside, we stood out. “Stuff rattles in here when I walk around,” a girlfriend used to lament. As proprietors of an upscale fine arts and antiques business downtown, my parents filled every crevice of our home with something exotic, conversation-inducing, and more often than not – breakable. Little glass shelves held breakable ceramics, jade, porcelain plates, and other finds from Italy, London, Beijing. My brother learned the hard way that even a Nerf ball could do serious damage in our house – evidenced today by the once perfect Chinese bowl that now sits in a dark corner with a streak of super glue up the back.

My papa’s appreciative eye did not allow for posters on my prepubescent bedroom wall either. I had to go across the street to Susan’s house if I wanted to catch a glance at Sean Cassidy or Scott Baio. Sleepovers? Only if we took it outside, in a sleeping bag on the back deck. And don’t forget the bug spray!

But even if my friends couldn’t toss around a Nerf ball, they loved coming over for other reasons. We’d twirl around a crystal on one of the chandeliers as we ate raw cake mix in the kitchen. Pretend we were prepping for opening night on Broadway in front of the upstairs bathroom’s Hollywood bulb-framed mirror. Try on mama’s high heels before the parents got home.

Loneliness was hard to come by on my street. Not even my headgear or green-hued hair from swimming outdoors all summer could alienate me. All I had to do to get a pal to meet me up at the pool for a game of Marco Polo was bang on four or five doors. Some kid would always be game. Because my street, in 1981, was filled with kids my age – all rocking their own set of of orthodontic hardware and trashed out swimmer’s hair. We were in this thing together together.

Being 12 in 1981, on my street, was about as good as it gets.

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