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“We’re going to sleep in the new house tonight,” my dad announced one summer evening. There were no beds in the new digs yet, just sleeping bags on the living room floor, yet none of us demurred. Our current house, a stucco ranch set back in a lot with another brown stuccoed rental in front, had seen us through a year. I’d finished eighth grade in this place: studied the anatomy of bird wings, made mnemonics for plant terms, recorded myself reading off grammar terms and definitions, and drove my older brother to my door saying “Would you shut that off?!” when I played back the tape. I’d stayed up until the wee hours reading my book report selections the night before they were due to avoid the fat, gaping zero we’d been promised for failing to finish. (I made it through Gulliver’s Travelers, but had to give up on a tome called Bangkok.)
Brown. The old three-bedroom house was dark brown, from the rugs to the drapes to the trim. There was the perimeter outdoors where us kids had played a game of hide-and-seek with the neighbor kids, racing to spy each other through parallel windows and laugh. We got in trouble for that–we had trampled the landscaping. I remember fine black dirt, pepper or eucalyptus providing shade. A chain-link fence bordered a parched back yard where I’d felt mild interest in a tent one of us had put up.