One summer my parents decided to build a separate garage, not attached to the house, to hold all of the fun things you need out in the country. I suppose it was also to hold a workshop for Dad. I vaguely remember stages of the construction. OK, I only have one memory of the construction. It was when Marvin and I were running around on the foundation that had been poured and set. Surefooted creature I am not, and this wasn't all that wide of a surface. Though I probably tried to summon my gymnastics days on the on the balance beam (which I wouldn't ever call successful), I lost my balance when picking up the pace a bit and took a nasty fall on the corner. My knee had a huge gash in it and blood poured down my leg into my sock. I was taken inside and plopped in the bathtub to be cleaned up by Unsympathetic Mom, who had most likely told me way too many times to not run on the foundation. I had to do it anyway. Marvin was doing it. I still have the scar on my knee today. It's the only scar I have, and I can't say I mind it too much because it reminds me of getting caught up in the moment of a challenge.
Fast forward... the garage is built, painted a cream color and trimmed in dark brown to match our 70s colored house. The garage became the center of the days outside. Everything started there and began there. The summer days would start with me or one of my parents going outside and opening the garage door. It was made of a thick plastic that turned yellow over time. I still see those types of garage doors today and think did those people know it was going to turn such an awful color of yellow? The door screeeeched all the way up as you lifted it. It really did have its own song. I could even hear it in the house sometimes. Simply defined, the garage was symbol of the day starting. Having the garage door up was friendly and welcoming. Today at my own house with my own separate garage, I hate when the door is down while we're outside. It feels cold and unsettled. It's funny how these things get mapped in one's mind.
The garage held all of the yard equipment, my bike and toys, and every other outside tool or game that we had. Marvin called it our barn. I didn't agree that it was a barn. It had a concrete floor and there weren't animals in it. I think he said it was a barn because it wasn't attached to the house. My argument was that it needed hay and to smell of horses for it to be a barn. We debated it and eventually both called it what we wanted.
There was a toy box by the man-door where all of my yard/outside toys were kept. I believe it was just a sturdy cardboard box. It held the basketball, wiffle balls, plastic trucks and cars and other things for the sandbox, jump ropes, the boomerang, the nerf football, blocks of wood, small hand saws from time to time (but I think this is only when I forgot to put them back in their proper location), and probably a few other things I'm forgetting. By the trashcan near the garage door hung the badminton rackets and hoops for Jarts. That all hung on the stair ladder that went up to the loft in the top overhang of the garage. I didn't like to touch the ladder area, nor was I a huge fan of retrieving certain toys from the toy box that we really had to dig for, all because of my extreme fear of spiders. I was much more brave with Marvin around for some reason.
We didn't usually stay in the garage for long. Retrieving a undershot basketball, getting toys out, drawing roads with chalk for our Hotwheels: these are a few of the in-garage times I can think of. I do remember a particular game of Madd that we played on the garage floor one afternoon. We argued and argued about the rules. I don't think that the Madd game was really designed to play for enjoyment, but more to make people mad. It worked on us. We were probably too young to understand...we just really liked reading the Madd magazines.
On the left side of the outside of the garage, Mom had a flowerbed. We played in the corner of the flower bed with our Hotwheels in the dirt...the best place to play with Hotwheels. The trucks we had would weave in and out of the flowers, over clumps of the clay-packed dirt, down towards the yard where the dirt edge met the grass, which was usually deemed the highway. There was also the part where the asphalt outside of the man-door met the dirt of the flowerbed. I distinctly remember the hump transition and how we would change our vehicles' speeds when getting on the pavement after having been bogged down in dirt. For long chunks of time, we squatted around each other, changing spots back and forth, moving the little cars and trucks. It was so satisfying.
The garage was the hub. I had no idea how important it was until I started to think about how we used to play football. We would go to the toy box to get the green and white Nerf football out... ah the toybox, in the garage...