Last night I dreamed I went to Manderley again.

I grew up in a big house on the top of a small mountain in Woodstock, New York. We moved in the summer I turned nine, and my mom and stepdad sold it 15 years later, in the spring of 2002. (Rumor has it that the new owners immediately rented the house to Matchbox 20 for the summer, which is…interesting.)

It was a great house. I dream about it sometimes, and last night I had the most realistic dream about it yet. I dreamed that I was walking through it, showing my mom what Will and I were planning to do with the rooms, because we’d just bought it. The best room in the house (which was my room for several years) was going to be Grace’s bedroom. My sisters’ old room would be Sam’s. The spare room between them would be a playroom with a projector set up for movies.

I woke up pining for the house in a way I haven’t ever before. I texted back and forth with my sister, drawing sketches of the layout and showing her what I’d put where. I am sad because we aren’t actually buying it.

I can't find a photo of the house, so here's the stream that ran through the property

I can’t find a photo of the house, so here’s the stream that ran through the property

Maybe I should buy a Powerball ticket.

This is not what I thought I would write.

I am friendly with the office manager/receptionist/whatever she is at Sam’s speech therapist’s office. Lori. At last week’s appointment—

Lori: How old were you when you moved out on your own?

Me: Seventeen.

I’ve given that answer for literally half my life and it occurred to me last week that it isn’t actually true. At seventeen I moved out of my mother’s house and into a sublet apartment with my father. We lived as roomies for most of a year.

The apartment was kind of horrible. It was essentially one room–you entered into an anteroom, bathroom off to the right and a typical New York kitchenette at the end; that room was filled with boxes and things of my father’s that move from one temporary apartment to another.

Then the main room, a large square that held my futon in the corner against the wall shared with the kitchen; a low table with our stereo on it (receiver and record player to start, with large headphones at first and later a pair of good Bose speakers that I still have and can’t quite part with, and even later a Denon single disk CD player that I also still have but would love to be rid of); across from that, my father’s futon folded up to sit on; next to it, a table with two chairs in front of the window overlooking a courtyard.

He brought me an African Violet from the Bronx Botanical Gardens and I kept it on that windowsill. That violet moved with me everywhere that I went until I came to California. You cannot bring flora of any kind into California. I’m not sure what happened to it then.

There was another window too, the one with the fire escape. Sometimes I’d climb out and just sit on the fire escape. My friend Nell lived in the attic bedroom of a big house in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, and she used to climb out onto the roof below her window (it must have been over a porch or something) at night and smoke and feel dangerous. My fire escape was basically the same thing, I guess. My solitary version of the escape I usually took daily, to the coffee shop around the corner.

Just before my 18th birthday, my father moved out of state. I stayed with friends for a week or two, Paul and Stefan and Paul’s girlfriend Kyra. Stefan let me have his room, overlooking Tompkins Square Park. Paul took me to his little brother Johnnie’s wonderful garden apartment for dinner on my birthday. Spaghetti and red wine. A year or two later, long after I’d moved out of the city, I visited John’s apartment again for a brunch party. Bagels and mimosas.

(Paul and I have been in and out of touch over the years since. I emailed him in a panic after the World Trade Center fell, as Johnny had worked in building 5. I think it was five. He was long gone from that firm, in Europe when it happened. Thank god.)

I will be 35 in twelve days.

I miss that apartment on West 21st Street. The diner is no longer there, around the corner on 8th Avenue. I wonder what happened to Anna, the Greek woman who ran the place. She was always there, whether I came for coffee in the morning or coffee 11:00 at night. I took cream and sugar back then. I’d stopped eating eggs before I moved there, but I think I started again because what else would I eat at a diner? She didn’t butter the toast unless asked to.

When they were very young

ergo-babies1

I am having a little trouble with my children getting older. Sam will be six this month. SIX. Grace has not ridden in the Ergo in six months or more, and I sold it yesterday.

I’m feeling a little sad.

Maybe a lot.

Half a Lifetime

Sixteen years ago today, my friend Melanie’s daughter Radha was born.

Let me back up.

This is a photograph (taken by my mom) of me on Christmas of 1994. I was sixteen years old.

Christmas1994

Twelve days later, on my half-birthday, Radha was born.

Today is Radha’s sixteenth birthday, which means that in exactly six months she will be exactly the age I was when she was born.

None of this matters to anyone but me, of course, but it is hard to believe.

I could probably get a lot more writing done if I still started with the TOC.

My father just emailed me this transcription of a scrap of paper he saved from the mid-late 1980s. I present it here without comment.

GHOST MISTERIES (1)

THE GHOST
IN THE HIDDEN
CHAMBER

By Annika Barranti

Table of Contence:

1 Elizabeth p.1
2 The Missing Ring p.4
3 The Hounted House p.7
4 The Hidden Chamber p.10
5 A Suspect p.14
6 A Kidnapping p.17
7 The Rescue p.20
8 The Ghost’s Secret p.24

Oh all right, just one comment: I read a LOT of Nancy Drew “Misteries” in the mid-late 1980s. CAN YOU TELL?

1986

Untitled-9-2

This photo (which is copyright Lou Barranti) show me and my sister, ages 8 and 5, looking toward an inlet of the Hudson River from our porch in Saugerties, New York. We lived there for about a year and a half before our parents divorced. I learned to read there.

Oh, Facebook.

I was just looking through an album of photos taken at an old friend’s wedding. Whenever I came across an adult I didn’t recognize, I scrolled down to see if the picture was tagged. One of them turned out to be an ex-boyfriend of mine. Several pictures later, he turned up again. I looked at the tags both times.

I did not recognize him, and it’s not because he looks very different. He doesn’t. I just forgot what he looks like. Granted, yes, it’s been 13 years. But I am just going to laugh at myself anyway because OMG I FORGOT WHAT HE LOOKS LIKE AHAHAHAHAHAHA.

I was going to name him (why the heck not?) but I realized that I always refer to him by first and last name, not in some weird My So-Called Life thing but because of a mix tape I made after we broke up. It wasn’t like all the mix tapes I made for Will when we were separated (which were OMG kind of pukey, and I found one recently but that’s another entry). It was a mix tape for me, because I was angry. I had dumped him after some fairly major transgressions (and also realizing that I didn’t really like him very much–awkward!) but I was still ticked off so I made this tape. It was called “Fuck You, [First Name Last Name]” and I have referred to him by his full name ever since. And sure, I could just refer to him by his first name here (it’s Eric) but it just wouldn’t seem right.

I still have the tape, actually, despite not having any way to play it. (Well, I still have a tape deck, but my stereo is not hooked up. Also I might have a walkman somewhere, but good grief there is enough of a AA battery shortage around here without me adding to it for this.) I really want to hunt it down so I can look at the track listing, but it’s under the stairs and I don’t know if you’ve seen all the stuff I have crammed under there but Trust Me, you do not want me to start digging now. I might not get out again until Christmas.

So, anyway. I do not have a point at all. Unless it’s to out the fact that it is no longer true if I say that I have no idea what any of my exes are up to. I mean, I still have no idea what he’s up to, but I know he was in a wedding recently. And by extension, I know that he still lives in the Hudson Valley (probably) and is still alive (almost certainly).

And also that maybe I am not going to look at Facebook anymore.

Another post about my 1996 journal.

This is going to be awesome. So, so awesome. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

Here is some Serious Drama:

Stain

this shirt you gave me
hangs on my body like
a tattered rag
it breathes you into me
and I don’t want it to
it smells like you
even though I tried
to wash you out of it
and you never wore it anyway
I didn’t ask for your heart
but you gave it to me
taunted me
I never asked for those games
you played with my mind
my desires
you took me against my will
then cast me aside
when it became inconvenient
forcing me to lose
my disillusions about you
you and me
what we could be (but never will)
all I wanted was you
to be my friend
I wish I could wipe my mouth clean
of the fact that
you ever happened

WOWSERS. For one thing, I have absolutely no idea who this could be about. Maybe it’s fiction? I think it must be fiction. I WANT IT TO BE FICTION OKAY? And I assure you that if it is true, it is full of, um, metaphors. Good grief.

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE.

Guess what I got in my inbox the other day. Go on, guess.

If you guessed that I got an email from my father full of pictures he took of me right around the time I was writing all this dreck, YOU’D BE RIGHT! Please enjoy.

Annika #10-Edit Annika #5tif-Edit-2

WASN’T I JUST THE CUTEST. OMG. (Photos copyright Lou Barranti. Don’t be a dick.)

(For more of my age 17 bad poetry, check out the rest of the nostalgia category. Not for the faint of heart. Yowsa.)