The First Family
They put me here in 1920. The man of the house wanted to be outside of town. The woman of the house sat on me shelling peas and snapping beans. Late in the day the man and woman of the house would sit drinking cold sweet tea. Spills would happen ants would congregate taking its nectar to their nest for nourishment. Eventually, the woman of the house brought home a small person it did not take long before there were four people in the family. They would run and stomp entertaining the short people. The day came when the other two people left to build their own porches. Goodbyes were said, waving and hugging throughout the seasons of my life.
Soon more people would visit. The man of the house was placed on the dining room table. The woman of the house wept. Many came to visit that day wearing black. Some sat on chairs that were placed on me. Some laughed telling stories of when and how I was built, while others just wept and sipped their teas and moonshine.
After the man of the house no longer came to sit on me I started to dry and crack. Soon boards were missing, my coating peeled, weeds grew up around me. The heat seemed unbearable my frame started to shift.
One day the lady of the house was put on the dining room table. The other two people that lived here grew big. They sat on my one step that was left telling each other stories of when they were small, they cried they laughed they walked away.
A stranger came putting a sign on me that said “Keep out” and another stranger came and put a sign on me that said “Condemned”
The second family:
It took a very long time before another man and woman came to look at me. I was near death. They both smiled and said they especially liked me. They sat on the one corner of my frame that was still strong enough to hold them. I heard the man say: “We can rebuild this porch replacing the deck boards with treated new planks.”
The woman was so happy she gave the man a kiss and a hug. The work began shortly after their visit. I felt strong and new again. There was a great deal of debris thrown out on me from the house. It took a very long time before the woman of the house was happy. One warm spring day the woman of the house placed chairs on me with red and white fabric, a table with a tray ready for that sweet tea. The man of the house did not work in the yard as did the first man of the house; he left in the morning and came home in the evening. The woman of the house would greet the man of the house with something cold that I was not familiar with. Soon I heard the woman of the house ask the man of the house if he wanted another beer. He always said: “Yes, Please.”
Just like the other people who lived here there were small people who slowly became large people and moved away. There were smiles, laughter, playing, dogs, cats so many things that happened to me while the small people grew large. The small people moved but they came back once in a while just to sit with the man and woman of the house.
The time came when the man of the house did not come home. People visited wearing black carrying all sorts of platters and dishes. The woman of the house wept. Once the people in black left the woman of the house would sit alone and stare until it got dark. Then she would get up and go into the house. Once she was in the house, she would turn a box on. The box would light up and voices came from it. The woman in the house would just sit. The box was still on when the birds started to talk. The woman of the house would walk to the box to make it silent. That was what she did every day till she no longer came home. The small people who grew up came and sat on me. The man said to the woman: “I am glad we took care of this house I love this porch.” The woman said: “Gus and I want to move here and raise our family.” The man said: “That is great to hear Mary, I was hoping you and Gus would stay here and take care of this porch.”
They changed my boards to something that I am not familiar with. It sounded different and felt different. The man in the house called Gus said: “This is made from recycled milk jugs.”
The woman of the house, Mary said: “I am glad we are bringing this house into a new world.”
My world did change the day they changed my boards, the house also had a change. The man called Gus called it “Siding” It was now blue and white instead of black and white. I like the change.
I noticed the man called Gus and the woman called Mary would sit on me they would call out to other people. I am not sure when it happened but there were more houses with special places to sit on like me. Some were small; some were called decks, not porches. They were close no longer far away. I could hear other people talk, laugh, yell, and cry each day.
I heard the woman called Mary say: “I remember when I grew up here it was considered country living. We are now part of the city.”
The man that was called Gus said: “At first I liked that we were at least still on the edge of town, it did not take long for the city to catch up with us.”
The woman called Mary and the Man called Gus did something different, the neighbor called it moving away.
The Third Family:
Now I have a man and woman sitting here on me. I do not know what they are saying. They look and sound different than the man and woman who put me here. They even sound and look different than the man called Gus and the woman called Mary.
The smells coming from the house is different. The clothes they wear are different the conversations are different. One man came over and was mad at the man of the house. The man of the house said something that made the man who came over very mad.
I heard a different sound that night, it was loud and something hot and hard hit me many times. The man of the house had something in his hand. The sound was loud. The man that visited yelled something.
One night I heard a window break in the house that I am connected to. I soon felt the heat that was not from the sun. I heard screams and crying the man and woman of the house ran across me and stood afar off. It took a while but soon I felt the pull of my being that drained all my strength. I fell into myself the house fell on top of me. The heat was too much for me to bear. I am no longer able to hold the stories of any man or woman of the house.
Once everything was quiet and the birds were talking I realized there were still some parts of me intact. That horrible night with all the heat I learned its called fire. There were men with big clothes on; I could not see their faces. They used hoses and sprayed me till I was saturated.
The sun came up and a man with big clothes on took something off the top of him, he coughed and drank something from a bottle. Another man came over and asked if he was okay. He said yes he was fine. In the silence where I laid, cats and other creatures found refuge in the corner where I still remained, some went to what was left of the house. Weeds grew up. There were other fires, shouting and gun shots.
Long after that horrible night, I heard a voice and saw a face I remembered from the night of the fire. The man in the heavy clothes who took off his hat came with a woman.
He said to the woman: “I have the original blueprint of this house. I would like to rebuild it as it was back in the day this city was at peace.”
The woman said: “I would love that especially the porch. Could we wrap the porch around the house as though to hug it.”
The man said: “Yes that can be easily done. There are still some good boards left from the porch; I want to take those boards to build a bench for the park down the street. I am hoping it can be a symbol of peace.”
I am no longer a porch instead I am now a bench. Many people come and sit on me. Their stories are each different and yet the same. They laugh they cry and sometimes stop and ask why. My job is different now hearing their stories I hold the weight of their world upon my seat. My journey continues with them.
THE BENCH part 2
Life was different in the park, many people came and went. The first day was a dedication of the park, people came to celebrate and some came because they were curious.
The very first people who came to sit on me were the man and woman who brought me here. They each sat contemplating all the people that would enjoy me; their hopes were high for this city to turn itself around.
Once the curious and enthusiastic people moved on with their lives a certain pattern started to emerge. Starting with young couples bringing their children and pets. Young adults meeting up with their friends. Picnics were eaten just behind me on the grass. Joggers sped by 3 to 4 times and then sat and rested drinking water.
The lawn was cut and watered regularly. People were picking up their debris and placing it in a barrel for the caretaker to dispose of. Slowly but surely people were not picking up after themselves. The grass was getting taller. Once in a while, people who lived nearby would make an effort to clean up the park, cut the grass, rinse me off. I am not sure if they gave up or just got busy with other things.
One day a man with old clothes and an unpleasant smell sat down on me. His head was hanging down, he had a small paper bag he would lift to his mouth, and then wipe whatever it was on his lips on the sleeve of his disheveled jacket. He left for a while during the day but he always came back. At night he would lay upon me and sleep. Just as the birds started to talk a man in a dark uniform came and tapped the man who was sleeping on me and said: “You cannot sleep here you need to move on.”
The man would get up and leave for a couple of hours and then come back with a fresh looking bag and start his daily routine. One night he laid down to sleep and did not snore, the man in the dark uniform came to tap him and tell him he had to move on but the man who was sleeping did not get up. The man in the dark uniform turned and talked into a box on his shoulder, someone from the box talked back. Next, a large van came and two people got out with a rolling bed. They took the young man that wasn’t moving away. I never saw him again.
A few days later a young man came and sat on me. He seemed nervous as though he was looking for someone. After awhile another young man came over and sat next to the first young man. They shook hands and then the second young man left, the first young man stayed and pushed something into his arm. Soon the young man’s body shook and foam came out of his mouth. Once the shaking stopped he laid still until the man in the dark uniform came over touched the young man that still wasn’t moving. The man in the dark uniform turned and talked into a box on his shoulder, someone from the box talked back. Next, a large van came and two people got out with a rolling bed. They took the young man that wasn’t moving away. I never saw him again.
After that young man was taken away more men in dark uniforms came into the park. Some sat on me to have their lunch. Others would sit and look around. The neighbors started to clean up again, moving the lawn, collecting the debris. This went on until it got cold out again. The snow and rain kept people away.
One night a man came and sat on me, he was crying and shivering he had a lot of things with him. He laid on me and pulled all his things over him. He slept till morning when a man in a dark uniform came over to tell the man he needed to move on. He tapped the man who was sleeping on me, the man did not move. The man in the dark uniform talked to the box on his shoulder, someone spoke to him out of the box. Next, a large van came and two people got out with a rolling bed. They took the man that wasn’t moving away. I never saw him again.
Someone put water in the park, people waited a couple of days before they came back. There were many families that came and spun around on the water that froze. Someone turned lights on around the frozen water. Music played people laughed, some fell, some danced and it seemed like everyone was having fun. More and more people came and went. Some took the time to sit on me and drink things that steamed.
One dark cold night after the lights went out a young woman came and sat on me. She cried while she sat there. After a while, she took something out of her bag. It was shiny, she pushed it into her body, a warm sticky substance started to drip on me. The young woman fell asleep. The man in the dark uniform came just as the birds started to talk. He did not touch her to tell her to move he only talked into the box he had on his shoulder. The van came as they had done before and took the young girl away.
One day when it was warm again outside the people who brought me here took me back home with them. They put me under a big tree where I could see the new porch on the house. Each day is much the same, warm, cold, rain or shine I sit under the tree and look at the new porch on the house. A garden was put around me it had different flowers, butterflies, birds all were a part of my life now. A large pot was set upon me that had flowers in it. I like sitting here looking at the new porch even on the cold snowy nights. Life and love are here, that is where I want to be. Home.