While I'm generally nostalgic in what I listen to and watch, I found myself this week thinking about my childhood years alot----specifically a point in my preteen days that helped shape the person that I am today. That thinking brought me to an extremely influential two-and-a half year period in my young life, where my family and I lived in a house on a big hill.
Well, technically it was more like a small mountain, but a hill just sounds better. Anyway, these two years or so start in the summer of 1987 and end in the fall of 1989. Living on the island of O'ahu's Wai'anae Coast at the time since 1984, my mother and father (both teachers), moved up the coast from the community of Ma'ili to the city of Waianae around July of '87. Summer was the easiest time for two teachers to move their family, and it had become a tradition for us at this point. I still remember arriving at our new place for the first time, and seeing how big everything about it was: A large carport, a lanai (or patio) that snaked around half of the house, which in itself was steeple-shaped with high ceilings, hanging chandelier, with two bedrooms and two bathrooms (the second bedroom was upstairs and completely uncovered like a cabin, only the upstairs bathroom and shower were covered). The yard was another great part, which had a few large pine trees, and some cactus.
But hey, this is more about what my life was like living in the house, not the house itself. Having turned seven years old over the summer, I was just the right age to ride my bike out in our new neighborhood, and here I met my first neighborhood friends to explore our street. I still remember David and Misty, who both lived right across the street from me, riding their bikes over to my carport as my family was moving in to introduce themselves. We went on numerous adventures to areas we weren't supposed to get near (all part of being young, invincible, and stupid). One legendary adventure was to a quarry area down the hill from us, where we tried to do some off-roading with our bikes. That went well for everyone but me, as I completely ate it on an area we called "suicide hill." Thanks well-placed rock that knocked me off my bike. There were some fun happenings in our house too. My family picked up our very first VCR (betamax), and we lost our minds trying to tape everything on TV, including a whole day of music videos. Then there was the time when my sister beat Super Mario 2 for the very first time. What really made this special was that I called my friends into the house to watch her, as none of us had done this yet. We were hanging on every near-death hit until she finally conquered the last boss, Wart. The yard even had some good times too, such as my birthday celebrations. My parents had purchased a slip-and-slide for my party, with my father testing it first to hilarious results when he slipped and fell on his butt down the slide. In retrospect, It probably wasn't the best idea to ask for such a party accessory when both our house and yard were built on a slope with a mostly dirt yard, but again, young and stupid. My first and only clubhouse was another great memory here. After constantly trying to build myself a clubhouse out of backyard scrap metal that my father would constantly have to remove, he gave in and constructed a proper one out of plywood from the local hardware store several miles out of town (thanks City Mill Waimalu). My friends and I used it all the time, and I even begged my parents to let me sleep in it. I learned the hard way how bad of an idea that was, as I became a feast for mosquitoes. My city planning interests began in this steeple palace as well when I was given a race track set that resembled a network of highways. It later grew into a large model city that took up a large portion of the living room, with modified boxes for buildings, hot wheels/matchbox cars, an erector set mall and bridge, even box plastic for windows. Our next door neighbors gave us a very memorable moment when they caught a large swordfish one saturday night, and they gave us some of the meat to cook up. I can still see this enormous fish covering most of their boat, and me just standing in awe of it all.
By far though, the biggest moment to happen at this house on a hill was creating my first comic book. I had become a big fan of the few superhero cartoons that were airing during this time (fall 1988), and at some point, just pretending to be Spider-Man or one of the X-Men with my friends wasn't cutting it anymore. All this media and playmate inspiration led to the creation of an early version of "Cosmic Force:" Six half-human, half-eagle super-powered crimefighters who defend the state of Michigan against the evil forces of Wild Cat, a super-strong feline, and Eviloid, a powerful sorcerer. While I wrote and illustrated the first issue at my mom's apartment (shortly after she and my father separated), I finished that book along with the other nine books I created out of legal sheets and construction paper at that special house. I loved showing both my neighborhood friends and classmates what I was working on even then, which would be some early training for the comic conventions and comic shop consignment reviews I would do today.
And that's how just one move, one house, and one neighborhood became a two-and-a-half year coming of age story for me. From biking adventures with my first next door friends, to hilarious birthday bashes, my introduction to Nintendo and video recorders, building a model city that took up precious living room space, family separations, to the birth of a comic I sell at large conventions today, this wooden steeple palace will always hold a special place in my heart for as long as I live.