Star Crossed Down Memory Lane Excerpt:
My best friend spoke fondly of her Memphis childhood home; but at first glance it appeared cold and lonely. The towering, exterior walls of the large, burnt-red brick were accentuated with limestone quoins that identified the corners and created a massive and heavy appearance that stretched in both direction from the grand entry. The two story façade was broken only by dark windows held by heavy, white grids, which were capped with beautiful crowns and graceful, swan-neck pediments. Large, hipped roofs reached high into the sky supporting four ornate dormers that jutted forth, providing visual domination over the perfectly manicured grounds—which Erin and Leah’s parents still covered financially. The estranged couple lived on opposite ends of the country since their divorce. That fact found Erin in a sad state of mind upon our arrival; therefore, her reticence lent itself to a sullen atmosphere. Aubrey suggested that we shrug it off and allow Erin time alone to deal with her memories.
While Erin fiddled with her luggage, Aubrey and I stepped slowly up the walkway onto a stone terrace that was protected by a railing consisting of large, limestone newel posts and turned balusters. The entire entry portrayed a stately appearance and extended upward to support the portico and balcony above. The amplified size of the bronze fixtures mounted on either side of the entry door was intriguing to say the least. Even the tall, wooden, double doors detailed with a fretwork medallion were overwhelming. It seemed like too large a home for just one person, especially at Leah’s age—a twenty something that spent her every waking hour at her nursing job. The dwelling gave off such a gloomy impression for one to make a lonely return every evening. But I clearly understood how memories could intensify the attachment to a childhood abode, no matter how poignant.
Once inside the expansive foyer, the echo of our footsteps off the tile floors and hardwood paneled walls was immediately suppressed by the deep chime of the exquisite grandfather clock that stood kitty corner to the demilune chest where Erin tossed her keys, not the least bit afraid of ruining the wood surface. Off to the left was a camelback loveseat with serpentine-styled arms and cabriole legs that held twenty textbook-sized tomes that contrasted the creamy white tones. I felt like a kid concerned about getting my fingerprints on the furniture. Erin assured me that she and Leah had jumped all over the place as youngsters, so as to make us feel more at home, and not like visitors to a museum.
The wide, freestanding staircase with its scrolled face string invited us for further exploration. But before we searched out our room, we peeked around the corner of an arched opening that led into the elegant living room. The large, brick firebox stained with soot from years of burning caught our eyes immediately. Its ornate rosewood mantel was supported by two pilaster that rose up towards the ceiling, only to be separated by the dentil course pediment that separated them from the cornice. The fireplace surround was a black-colored marble that displayed bright, white veins that streaked through it like lightening on a stormy, summer night. The rest of the luxurious room was wrapped in a skirt of red mahogany, paneled wainscoting detailed above by raised picture-frame plaster moldings with crossette corners that looked like dog-eared pages of a worn book. Inside the wide and stately moulding hung an assortment of rich oil paintings depicting various serene landscapes that looked like they belonged only in pleasant dreams of distant eras.