The House on Paddington

Paddington Terrace is the landscape across which my stories spill like beads, scattering from the broken string of a memory, rolling, skipping, bouncing before coming to rest in the dips and curves, the stony ruts and soft green verges of that so familiar street.

It was on this street, in the sprawling red and white house at number thirty-seven, that I first began to grasp just who it was that I wanted to be in the world. I was fourteen when we moved there, and I lived in that house with my parents and older brother a scant four years before I moved away for good. I went to New York City to attend college and stayed for decades. I married and had children there. I worked for magazines, wrote books, paid school tuition, put down roots. But before my life in New York, there was Paddington Terrace.

That house sheltered everything, the experiences I shared with my family, the secret teenage infatuations, the cousins and might-as-well-be cousins who moved in with us for months at a time (so that the people across the street thought we were a boarding house), the barefoot walks with friends up and down the baking asphalt, the twilight conversations just outside the front gate, spun out as long as we could till our parents finally called us in; all of it settled in me like so many shimmering fragments of a possible life, finding at last a permanent home.