I have lived in eight different houses. But I like to call this one, the one on the edge of a canyon, the Eden House. It has been almost nine years since I last entered Eden. But I still remember everything, perfectly.
The hillside was green and covered in ice plant, dotted with the purple and yellow of bright, spiky blossoms. When I was five, my father built me a playground with blue swings and a small trapeze. There was a slide and a low climbing wall near the chicken-wire house, furnished with mildewing green futons.
A deck made of glass, wreathed in poisonous orange trumpet flowers, overlooked the canyon, a bird feeder hung from its rafters. If I stood near the windows, I could smell the sea breeze from the wide windows while watching the sun turn the sky to fire at dusk.
Our house had a pool with a tiny waterfall that trickled out of the rose-colored flagstones. The bottom of the pool, painted sky blue, appeared so vibrant in summer that I needed sunglasses while swimming. Jade plants and sour grass bloomed around the black mesh pool fence. A little river ran through a papyrus grove just below my window, leading to a tall macadamia nut tree in the yard.
In spring I would pick the nuts and put them in a red plastic bucket. Then I would take a hammer from the tool shed and crack them on the driveway. I can still taste them, buttery and earthy, their meat so savory, slightly crunchy and simultaneously smooth.
Wooden steps made a trail from the deck to a blossoming purple jacaranda tree, heavy with flowers and bright emerald leaves. The bark was thick and knotted, dark brown and russet red. I used to climb into its highest branches and sing with the birds nested there. In March I wrapped ribbons around its trunk and hung a hammock to sleep in during summer.
A pepper tree grew outside our front door and when it rained the smell of fresh ground pepper wafted through the sitting room. The house was painted teal and white, but the paint was cheap and cracking. It flaked off after every storm, every strong wind. The diamond-shaped windows were dusty and yellowing, but that house was beautiful.