“A Place I Had Once Known” – prose by Brandon Balathunis

Fiction, Non-fiction


I remember the way my grandparents’ house was when my grandfather was still alive. I can recall in the mornings after I stayed the night there. I sprang out of bed after I heard the crack of an egg shell and, the sound of my grandmother’s cast iron skillet sizzling. I hurried out of my room and made my way down the staircase. When I opened the door at the bottom of the stairs, the air on the other side was hazy and thick with the smell of bacon, eggs, cinnamon bread, and the sweet smell of buttermilk pancakes with home made maple syrup. We would all eat together at the table and talk. My grandfather sat at the head of the table drinking a cup of black coffee freshly brewed from his stovetop brewer.  All the heavenly scents filled the house like a vaporous delight.

In the afternoon my grandfather was often upstairs working in his office while the house jumped with every bass strum of the Jazz music he played on his gigantic stereo system. Sometimes I’d go upstairs and we would listen to Stan Getz and Oscar Peterson together. He would always tell me about different jazz musicians, but our favorite was Stan Getz because superb of his saxophone skills, which we felt could only be matched by the much earlier “Prez” himself, Lester Young. Our dog, Chipper, despite being half deaf would jump to his feet and prance around the house excitedly when he heard it.

In the evening the flickering fire place filled the living room with a glowing light. The fire filled the room with its radiant warmth and the smoky scent of the burning wood my grandfather chopped earlier in the day. The wood popped and crackled in the background as we sat around the living room drinking tea and talking. My grandfather, dad, uncle and I would discuss politics, history, and society. I loved to listen to them talk when they got into a really deep conversation, and, in those moments, I felt like nothing in the world could be better then being in that house. It was a safe place ware nothing could worry me; it was where we could get together and be a family.

Since my grandfather’s passing, my grandmother’s loneliness has left her no choice but to acquire a housemate to help fill her large house and keep her company. A woman named Sue moved in, but when I go to my grandma’s house it feels strangely empty of the life it once had. No more rich aromas of breakfast in the kitchen. The sound of the Jazz music faded away along with the life of our old dog Chipper. Because Sue acquired several rooms for her own use, I no longer have access to my old room and my grandfather’s old office. Now in a strange way the house no longer feels like the family house anymore, now it feel like just any house. It is no longer filled with the warmth and joy it once was flooded with. The walls, doors, windows, and even the furniture is the same, but the heart and soul of the house is gone.

I learned that over the course of time things can change drastically. Even though it’s a sad thing, and deep down I wish that things were back to the way they used to be, the experience is a lesson learned about life. I feel that sometimes revisiting old places is difficult, and it is important never to forget the past but also know when to move on. But was worth it because I love to reminisce, and no matter how sad it may seem its always brings back happy memories of my grandfather. Even though he’s gone and the house has changed I still have my family, and because of those memories I never forget who I am. I would definitely recommend going back to, or looking at a place you once knew because it teaches you a lot about yourself, where you’re from, and who you are. You find out what really matters in your life, and it helps you appreciate the ones that you love because you never know when things will change.

(Note: the image is from http://bulgaria-photos.info/wallpapers1600.html)


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