Having a keen eye for real estate and working on a timeline of no more than two months, Mama was scrupulous and swift when choosing the right house. After a hard and footsore morning of self-guided showings, it was on Oakridge Drive where she found just the thing: a midcentury split level, set back from the road and nestled into a hillside, trimmed with wrought iron details and a bedroom balcony that overlooked the pool. The pool was really what caught Mama's attention, specifically the thicket of verdant elephant-ear plants that wrapped around the outdoor patio, intertwining with fat terra cotta pots of bright fuchsia bougainvillea, creating the feeling of a miniature jungle. It was there, fifty-six days later, with the faintest breath of spring in the air, she gave birth to five kittens. My parents instantly regretted telling me they were there, for when we made our pilgrimage to my grandparents' tidy house I skipped polite chat and bolted down the stairs, pressing my face against the sliding door in hopes of seeing the kittens, so desperate I caused a clatter and an obvious round white fog of my breath against the glass. Startled by the commotion, Mama deftly ushered her round and mewling children back under the elephant ears, her lustrous tabby fur slipping through the giant leaves and closing them behind her like a beaded curtain. As March gave way to April, I learned to control my volume, and as I calmed, I caught more glimpses of black and white fluff, tabby tails, and tufted orange ears. With every passing day, they grew bolder. Mama sat just at the edge of the little jungle one Sunday, watching as the five tussled in the late morning light, chasing pillbugs across the patio. Mama was starting to get that restless, primeval itch that made her turn to house hunting again, and the kittens had started to find meals on their own. As I watched the little clowder tumble in the sun, I overheard the adults in the room ruminating that it wouldn't be long before all of the cats had wandered off and we should probably consider sprinkling a box of mothballs in the bushes before the next set of pests moved in. My pleading eight-year-old eyes turned to each grown up in turn, looking for weakness of will that might somehow result in my acquisition of a pet before they aged out of my grandparents' garden. A firm no, an exasperated head shake, a “don't even ask..” But bless him, my father, well into his sixties at the time and perhaps not at the peak of his physical prime, stood up and slid the sliding glass door open, startling Mama cat who dove into the thicket, teenaged kittens in hot pursuit. Dad stood as a Midwesterner does, hands-on-hips, scrutinizing the situation and evaluating all possible escape routes. Without further prompting, he plunged into the elephant-ear thicket and a great cacophony of rustling and squalling carried into the house. Just as my mother began her protests in urgent, as I clenched my fists under my chin in trepidation, he emerged— mottled old hands bloody, Dockers khakis covered with mulch, and clutching a screaming, swatting calico kitten. I called her Wildflower.
A wonderful feeling of joy would come to me by opening the gray door of my grandparents' big house, which grew small as I grew big. We had to travel to my Grandparents house for about one hour, and I clearly remember that we had flown over this beautiful, green and full of life oak forest which was followed by a pink lake. The best part of the trip was guiding the taxi driver to the allies that would lead to their house. After opening the gray metallic door, I would look for my grandma. She would run outside of the house with a big smile on her face and would greet us with hugs and kisses with a big excitement and joy. The house I will forever have embedded in my mind is located in Tehran, Iran at the end of a blind alley. My Grandparents' house looks quiet and serene, surrounded by its own garden. The front door of the house is connected with the garden by a stone path made of limestone which is smooth to step on. Along both sides of the path were some pink and purple wildlings. The garden is bordered by a circle of different types of tall, green trees and beautiful, colorful ﬂowers which made the garden smell amazing at all times. As far as I can recall red roses were in the garden at all times. The dew would shine on top of the red petals every morning. The first time I heard that roses bloom once or twice a year I was surprised. I remember I would spend the afternoons enjoying the coziness and happiness of the living room, “red room” as everyone calls it. Someone outside the family cannot guess which room it is. Because the room is no longer covered in red velvet wallpaper and a new life has been given to the furniture. They don't have small red roses on top of the milky background anymore. Instead, it is covered in a light blue velour. There is still evidence of red in the room. A medium-sized painting of red rose bush is hanging on a white plaster wall. The painting is in bright colors but somehow it is still dark. It is framed in dark wood. Every color in it is bold and it is painted with such precise lines that it almost looks like a photo. The lines are curved, yet sharply defined. I never saw the “red room” in its original state. I didn't like drinking any kind of tea but the only time that I would be the afternoons in the “red room”. My grandma would bring me a special one. It was lighter than the other ones. The best part about it was the sweets next to it. Carrot cake, banana bread, apple pie or petibor biscuits, didn't matter which one, they all tasted differently in the red room. They tasted wonderful. After having tea I would invite my dolls for a picnic. I would sit under a short tree with feather-like leaves in lavender, next to the swimming pool. The main element of the tea party was my small set of rose teapots and cups. They were similar to a set that grandma has. I would spend hours under the shadow of that tree. My grandma would make a big jar of lemonade with big pieces of ice, it was the colour of summer sun. It would steal the heat from my sole. Sometimes she would play with me while drinking the cold lemonade and she would tell me stories. These days when we fly to Tehran there are no signs of green forest or pink lake. I don't need to guide the taxi driver though the allies. He has the destination address on his phone. Still, sometimes I show them the way. They may think I'm weird but I don't care. I like to go through the allies as fast as possible and get to that grey door. These days grandma doesn't run out in the garden when we arrive. She observes me running through the gate and then garden with a warm smile on her face from a large window of the red room. Although the garden still has green plants, it is not as green as it one day was. Once in a while bushes of roses appear, and grandma asks someone to pick a few for the red room. Grandma doesn't pour tea anymore. So no one brings me a special one. I still drink tea in the red room but without sweets. Grandma forgets how many she had and it is not good for her so anyone who pours tea doesn't bring sweets with it. Grandma points at the dired short tree with feather-like leaves in lavender and tells me “do you remember the picnics you did under that tree?” After having a bitter sip of the tea she points at the short tree again and asks, “do you remember the picnics you did under that tree?”. I miss everything about the tea and chocolate cake in that room but I prefer drinking bitter tea with her in the red room to anywhere else. I enjoy listening to her stories over and over just like the old days in the garden. The roses are not always around, we should enjoy their company while they are still around.