Perspective

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How you view what happens in life depends on many things, one of which is your perspective. Childhood events are different depending on whether you’re viewing them firsthand as a child or remembering them many years later as an adult.

For instance, what happened that first day we moved into our new house a long, long time ago — a house located on that old familiar street not so far away called Flamingo.

Growing up, it was a rare event for my four brothers, The Sister and me to agree on anything. So rare I still remember the first thing we all agreed on – our new house was huge!

After almost a year of building, Dad had finally finished our house at 110 Flamingo Street. We moved in right after Twin Brother Mark and I had our sixth birthday. The house had four bedrooms: we shared one, Older Brother Richard and Big Brother James shared another, and The Sister and our parents had their own. We spent the next seven magical years making memories in that house, but as we all got bigger, our huge house got smaller. It was all a matter of perspective.

When we first moved in, standing in the middle of the hallway with arms outstretched, I couldn’t reach and touch both walls at the same time. By the end of the second year, touching walls was easy. Before the end of the third year, I was able to push back against one wall and, feet against the other, climb up to the ceiling then drop on my unsuspecting brothers as they came out of their bedrooms.

There was only one explanation, our hallway walls were somehow moving closer together. But our hallway wasn’t the only thing getting smaller in our house — so were our bedrooms.

The scar on my chin is still a reminder that jumping from my twin bed to Mark’s was impossible during that first year, difficult but achievable the second year, and a nightly occurrence by the third. The scar came the fourth year.

That’s when Mark secretly moved his bed to the far wall during the middle of the night, making the jump once again impossible. By the end of the sixth year, our once huge room wasn’t so huge anymore. Shortly thereafter I moved out and into the spare basement bedroom. I felt really small in that huge room. It was all a matter of perspective.

Less than a year later, we moved out of the once huge house that Dad built. Fifty years passed with none of us ever returning — until last year. Big Brother James and I visited Beacher Hills, our first elementary school, for a grand reopening.

Located just down the street from Flamingo, James asked if I wanted to go with him to visit our childhood home. I told him no, I wanted to keep my childhood memories as I experienced them as a child. He went without me. Upon his return, I asked him what he thought.

He replied with sadness in his eyes, “I shouldn’t have gone. It was much smaller than I remembered. Just a house, nothing really special about it.”

Watching him climb back into his car and drive away, I thought back upon those seven years we spent in that house growing up and realized just what a magical time it was. And how he couldn’t have been more wrong.

He was looking at our childhood home as an adult and had forgotten the wonder of that first day and the rest of those seven years we spent there. His perspective had changed.

That’s why I didn’t go with him. I want the huge house Dad had built to remain in our childhood so I can visit it as many times as I wish — unchanged by the passing of years.

Sadly, next summer our granddaughters will move out of our house — a house they have known all of their lives. Currently, their mom is walking through homes trying to decide which one to buy. She wants one close to us with large bedrooms, wide hallways and a big backyard.

After viewing one just down the street, she said the bedrooms and the yard seemed so small. I smiled, thought of this story and replied, “It just depends on your perspective. Take it from me, the girls will have so much fun living there, and they’ll think their bedroom is huge.”

Rubbing my chin, I quickly added, “Just don’t let them move their twin beds too far apart.”

[Rick Ryckeley has been writing stories since 2001.]