I’m a front porch girl. Now I imagine you haven’t been sitting around pondering your outside seating loyalties, but follow along for a bit.
This summer I’ve been doing a great deal of my writing, my visiting and my just plain relaxing sitting out on the front porch of my apartment. I realized how much I’ve missed the intimacy and neighborliness the front porch brings. Definitely a different vibe from the omnipresent deck. Don’t get me wrong, I love my deck. It’s a great place to eat, hang out and get away from the world — and that’s just it. There are times to escape and then there’s the front porch.
As I sit here now watching a storm blow up, saying hi to the occasional passer-by, I wonder at its magic. My childhood vignettes often involve front porches. I remember sitting on the steps of my Grandma’s in Burlington, NC — I was 5 and the tall, scary, prune-y people sat up on the porch talking to her while the my brothers & I sat quietly below. We knew if we were well-behaved, grandma would sneak something from her never empty stash of goodies into our damp, little hands. It’s one of the few memories I have of the woman with whom I share a name.
I don’t remember doing a lot of sitting on the porch at home as a kid. It was a stage for acting out my stories (someone inevitably crashed to the floor, or jumped over the edge), the deck of my pirate ship, and quite often the launching platform for Barbie with her hanky-designed parachute to fly from the back of GI Joe’s jeep. Never any distance, but a few times we got some good loft 🙂 There were always big, lipstick red geraniums in huge clay pots, smelling of spice and dirt and summer.
I recreated the feeling in our first house. It had the steps, the big old porch fan, everything you could want. Except….. in one of the sleekest birthday surprises ever executed my Dad and Chris added a massive swing to one side of the porch. And it was perfect! That porch saw parties where 60 people ended up spilling from the house to the front porch. It saw Sunday afternoons of bourbon and cigars, and nights of watching the fireworks from the ball field (3 blocks away).
Some of the best memories from that house are of sitting on the porch with the girls, listening to music. In the pre-Ipod world, I would put the baby monitor next to the CD changer and had the receiver on the porch with me — instant outdoor speakers. Everyone along the street would wave or come up to chat, we knew all the dogs and children by name.
This summer has recreated that community. Here on the porch of “chez Aly,” I’ve laughed, made new friends, deepened old friendships, cried, created and seen all sorts of variations of nature and humanity. In one of the best 4th’s ever, OK, best 4th not to include Keith Lockhart who would make it beyond perfect, some friends joined us on the porch…. The kiddies went inside to bond and explore Disney, while the adults talked for hours with wine, music and shoofly pie fueling the conversation. I don’t think it matters what we said — the pleasure in each other, the laughter made the evening sparkle. There have been so many of those evenings this summer that I don’t want to leave!
I will miss my porch when I leave here at the end of the summer. Can I create that feeling back home in my front porch-less world? Lawn chairs in the front yard, hmmmm….? There has to be a way.
Music to listen to on the porch: Perfect Country Song (David Allan Coe); 8 Piece Box (Southern Culture on the Skids); Penny Lane (Beatles); Blackberry Boogie (Tennessee Ernie Ford); Everybody Needs Somebody to Love (Wilson Pickett or the Blues Brothers, especially if you do the dance); Anything Can Happen (Was not Was); Everybody have fun tonight (Wang Chung); Come on a My House (Rosemary Clooney); Our House (Madness); My Little Town (Paul Simon); Deep Purple (Art Tatum); Blue in Green (the Bill Evans trio); Who Says you Can’t Go Home (Bon Jovi & Jennifer Nettles) and Message in a Bottle (Police)
Grief can take care of itself, but to get the full value of joy you must have somebody to divide it with. –> Mark Twain