My favourite place in the whole world is my garage back home in Canada. My garage is not my favourite place because there is a spectacular view or it is anything out of the ordinary, but because the memories and feelings associated with it. The garage is something that my family ourselves had to create, to mold it into what we wanted to be, not just what it had to be; which has made it one of the most important places not just for me, but for my parents and little brother Nicholas too.
Our garage started as an empty shell left by our house builders and it was up to us to make it into what it is today. This meant late nights of drywalling and sanding, leaving Dad and I whiter than ghosts from the dust and having to change outside because we were too dirty for Mom to let us into the house. Next came the painting, and with it, ugly face masks so we didn’t inhale the spray paint. On these nights, my job was to hold the ladder while Dad was up painting the 14 foot tall ceiling, because there was no way I’d let him do that dangerous job by himself. We had to work, really hard, to make our garage the place it is today, and we have to work just as hard to keep it in tip-top shape. This is why, last fall, we were on top of the roof in 95km/h winds to fix the shingles so they wouldn’t blow off. In the winter, we had to fix the big door because it would not close and it was -30 out. We’ve made it part of our home, so it is only fitting that it has become the home of some of my favourite memories.
With every season comes new scents and new sights within my garage. You can find the hockey net set up in the corner, tennis balls strewn across the garage, goalie pads tossed on the concrete floor and hockey sticks lined up in a neat row against the wall as my brother and I sit, laughing and joking, taking a break from practicing. While this sight remains all year, only in the winter will you find the smell expected to come with it, cause by the two sets of ice hockey equipment and skates spread all over the workbenches and floor to dry after a long game. Also covering the floor in the winter time, you will find the puzzle of car parts that make up the 1968 Chevelle that Dad and I have spent years finding time to redo. Winter nights too cold and dark to be outside as a child were used to completely take apart the candy apple red car, paint it, fix it, update it and slowly put the car back together again. Our garage, with the towering red metal toolboxes and the shelves holding rows of oil jugs has become an escape from the long winter nights.
When the winter nights fade and snow begins to melt, you know it is almost spring and there is mud everywhere. Shoes will constantly be left out instead of put away on the rack so that they can be cleaned and dried from the mudpuddles forming a mine zone outside. The garage will have the smell of rich black earth from the mud and from the tomato plants that we have started to grow in pots, being still too cold at night to plant them outside. Gone are the tomatoes come summer time, instead you will find carpentry projects, all in various stages, left out until completion, piles of sawdust and wood chips being swept up and tossed into the trash can. Bikes, kites, footballs and other summer toys will be haphazardly laid in the entrance way as all the neighbours’ kids, my brother and I run around causing mischief in the school-less summer days. Also in the summer will you find the days where the garage has actually been cleaned up enough for it to be presentable. Friday nights filled with casual shop parties, family and friends. You can hear the sound of laughing and singing as people converse, scattered with the metallic crack as cans of beer are opened. Wafting in through the open doors, you will be able to smell the mouth-watering scent of steaks on the barbeque, and the clean air as the day begins to cool and the frogs begin to croak.
Fall brings a lot of change. The nights are freezing and the days are windy and grey. The only colour can been seen in the bright reds, yellows and oranges scattered across the tree beds. The party chairs and summer projects will be put away, to be replaced by rakes and tools, trying to finish the last of the handyman jobs before winter makes it too late. In one end you will hear the steady drip drip, as fresh moose meat hangs to dry from the fall hunting excursions. Mom’s car will once again be parked in the garage as it begins to get too cold to park outside. Stacked in the corner will be the pile of logs and scrap building wood, making you anticipate fires with hot chocolate and marshmallows set under the clear star speckled sky in the cool nights to come.
Although, with each season, the sights, the contents and the scents may change drastically, the heart of it will always be the same. Lying at the core, you will always smell the perfectly balanced combination of exhaust, brake clean and wooden planks, a smell that is refreshing and reminds you where you are at the same time. You will always see the organized mess of tools, hockey equipment and projects meant to be finished lying around. And you will always hear the steady stream of good home country music flowing from the battered old radio in the corner. A place doesn’t have to be something magical for it to be special; it has to feel like home. A place will be your favourite because of the memories you associate with it, and if you are comfortable with it. I am familiar with all the complicated workings of my garage and the changes each season brings, it really does feel like home to me, and that is why it is my favourite place.