Even though Raymond and I have owned the Manse for more than a year now, and have been spending time there regularly for almost that long, I still occasionally get surprised by the discovery of a little something in a nook or cranny of the house that dates from my long-ago childhood there, and that remains undisturbed to this day.
It happened on our last visit, and I hope you will chuckle when you find out what my discovery was.
I was in what I still call “the girls’ room” – the bedroom that my sister, Melanie, and I shared when my family lived at the Manse in the 1960s and early 1970s. I can’t remember why I was there, but whenever I’m in that room – possibly the sunniest in a house that is full of bright and sunny rooms – I like to look out the window facing onto “downtown” Queensborough, enjoying the view that I grew up with. And that’s what I was doing when I happened to look down at the wooden floorboards near the window. And what did I see? Well, it looked like two small purple spots.
What the deuce?
Upon closer inspection, it turned out that it was two small purple spots. And suddenly it hit me.
That was my side of the room back when Mel and I shared it. That was the wooden floor the room had until it was covered with carpeting a couple of years before my family moved away. (Carpeting that remained in place until I myself pulled it up and exposed the floor a year or so ago.) Those purple spots were something my very own young self had let fall there, four decades ago. They were: nail polish.
I even remember the nail polish! Which I never would have, had I not discovered those purple spots. I haven’t been able to abide nail polish for decades, but when I was 12 and 13 years old it seemed very exciting to paint one’s nails bright colours. (And since when you are 12 and 13 years old you just know that you are going to live forever, the stupidly tiresome – or is it tiresomely stupid? – job of taking off the old polish with that ghastly-smelling – probably toxic – nail-polish remover seems like a perfectly acceptable use of one’s limitless time.)
I remember very clearly the first pot of nail polish I ever bought. It was by Mary Quant – Mary Quant, people! Carnaby Street! Swinging London! Miniskirts! Hot pants! – and it was the brightest red imaginable, a shade appropriately called Jezebel. (Faithful readers will know that bright red is my very favourite colour. No surprise, then, that it’s the shade I encouraged Raymond to paint the Manse’s oil tank.)
And I think the purple was nail-polish pot #2. Not nearly as exotic a brand as Mary Quant; I am pretty sure it was run-of-the-mill (and cheap) drugstore stuff. But purple nails seemed highly groovy and adventurous, and it was a groovy and adventurous time.
And so I painted my nails purple once or twice or a few times back in 1971 or ’72 or ’73, while sitting on the edge of my bed, near the window that faces “downtown” Queensborough.
And once when I did it, I spilled a couple of drops on the wooden floor.
And there they are to this very day. A lasting reminder of my early teens, and the grooviness of years gone by.