The House With A Pizza Place Behind It

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Week 1-Memoir 

My grandfather died last summer.  With his recent death, my mom and her sisters have been going through my grandparents’ belongings (my grandmother died about 5 and a half years ago), dividing them up amongst the family, and attending to both the practical and emotional matters that come with losing your parents.  All of it has gotten me thinking often about my grandparents, remembering lots of stories and fun times together.  Many memories are from more recent years, including visits I would make to see them while they lived in Denton, Texas and I was attending college in Fort Worth, only about 40min away.  But I’ve also thought way back to my younger days, and the joy and wonder of making long journeys to see Grammy and Grampa in Lubbock.  

I grew up in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and from the time I was born until I was in elementary school, my grandparents lived in Lubbock, Texas.  Lubbock is where my parents met and got married, so I knew it was a significant place, even if at the time I wasn’t able to put that into words.  

The road trip to Lubbock was part of the adventure and I so looked forward to it.  Bless my parents, because as I have grown and now have my own kiddos, I realize that the long drive we had to make was likely not much fun for them, but nonetheless, they made it feel exciting.  We had a minivan, so my sister, Alice and I each had our own seat to sprawl out on with our books, blankets, and road trip junk food that we were allowed to get when we had to stop for gas.  

We would wake up early, although I think we never left as early as was planned, and head out.  Not too long into our drive, we would stop at McDonald’s.  Oh McDonald’s.  McDonald’s breakfast food will always hold a special place in my heart because of those days when I was on my earliest adventures.  I think my dad and I were most excited about planning and discussing the meals on the trip, regardless of if we had just finished one.  Don’t get me wrong though, because we’re a whole family of good eaters and we all have opinions on the matter.      

Once we were back in the car and on our way again, we’d listen to either music or a book on tape, or we’d play car games.  I enjoyed the game where you go through the alphabet by finding each letter on other cars or signs, but it could get tricky when we were out in the middle of nowhere.  There was a lot of wide open space on that drive from Oklahoma City to Lubbock.  My mom very enthusiastically pointed out every live animal we passed.  My dad thought this was unnecessary.  His mindset with the animals was if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen ‘em all.  I’m pretty sure that’s still his mindset.  I was always pumped about seeing the animals though and now that I have a 2.5 year old son who adores his ‘ammals,’ I totally get saying over and over, “Aww, look at the baby horses!” 

I know I said that I looked forward to the drive and I really did!  But as soon as we had eaten our delicious fast food breakfast and I had played with my car games and looked at my book, I was pretty ready to just be there.  This was also because I wanted to talk and hang out with Alice.  She was older and cooler than me, and she typically wanted to sleep, which I never understood, or she would read, or put her headphones on to listen to her Walkman. 

Finally, after probably hundreds of questions regarding when we would get there, we did in fact arrive at my grandparents’ house.  Once we were there, the fun really began!  Let me tell you a little about some of the glorious things a five year old could find in and around this special house.  In the room that Alice and I stayed in, there was a dress up closet.  I love-love-loved dress up!  This closet held dance costumes that my mom and her sisters had worn.  It makes me smile just to think about it.  If I was in the mood for a bit more refined dress up, all I had to do was walk down the hall, across the house, to Grammy and Grampa’s bedroom.  Grammy allowed me to put on her clothes, including her lala shoes, which is what I called high heels.  I’d clomp around in her shoes and jewelry and write pretend checks in her old checkbooks.  Grammy and Grampa had a sort of sunroom that was a converted garage.  I remember some serious make believe and dress up going on in that room.  They had a little TV room, and I would watch old shows, like Perry Mason, in there with Grammy.  I think one of our visits was over 4th of July, because we all went out to the backyard to light sparklers, and there was such beauty in that glow at dusk.  Behind their backyard was a pizza place.  You could walk out of the gate and go eat pizza any ol’ time you wanted.  I thought this was the coolest. thing. ever.  I’m actually a little embarrassed by how much of an impression that made on me, considering that my grandmother is without a doubt one of the best cooks I will ever eat from, and probably would have whipped up a homemade pizza right there in her own stinkin’ kitchen if she knew how happy that silly pizza place made me.  I honestly don’t even know if we ever ate there.  Kids are interesting creatures, huh? 

It was a nice house.  Simple and lovely.  There wasn’t anything lavish or flashy in their house, rather it was filled with art, family photos, and many instruments that Grampa, who was a music professor at Texas Tech, had made himself.  There was a richness, a sense of life, a less is more feeling.  These thoughts flood my head when I envision that house in Lubbock, and remember how good it made me feel at the time.  

As far back as I can remember I have admired houses.  I love how they reflect the people that live in them.  I love seeing how people turn their houses into homes.  I love working to make my own house a home.  As my interest in decor and design continues to alter, I have recently found myself drawn to a style that looks much like that house in Lubbock.  Maybe what I’m striving for is to create a home with the same warmth, light, smells of home cooked meals, laughter, storytelling, make believe, music, and love.  Although, another part of me thinks what I really need is a house that backs up to a pizza place.  Because as I recall, a house like that is truly magical.   

*I've joined an 8-week long writing group, called the Flywheel Society.  It's organized and facilitated by Matt Mooney.  I'm really looking forward to starting this adventure and being a part of this community.


  1. Beautiful! I love thinking about my grandparents' house too. My sisters and I thought the RV in their backyard was the most magical place ever. :)

  2. Thanks so much, Cait. I love that about the RV- so good!



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