My parents sold the house I grew up in this week.
TFW you’re have an identity crisis and you call your parents and they’re like, “SURPRISE! We sold your childhood home and didn’t tell you.”
— Meredith Kate (@meredithk8) July 9, 2016
We moved in when I was four. It was sigficiantly larger than the house we were moving from, but far less charming – the first house was a split-level, on the end of a cul-de-sac. Looking at a map now, I realize how centrally-located it was. I have nice memories of that first house…but maybe those memories are tied up in early childhood nostalgia. Maybe those memories aren’t well-founded.
So, we moved to this second house where I’d spend years 4 through 18. My parents lived there another 3 years and then followed the trail I’d blazed to Florida. They put they house on the market. It stayed on the market for 10 years, so to say that this sale was surprise is a little misleading…it was just a very, very long time coming.
…kinda like the family member who has cancer and lives with cancer for ten years and seems fine! And then they die suddenly on a lazy weekend. And you just don’t know how to feel about it.
I never liked the house. My biggest gripe as a restless kid (who would grow into a restless adult), was that I couldn’t walk to anywhere. I mean, a friend lived just down the street and I babysat kids a block in the other direction, but everything else was at least a mile away…the corner store, my school. And yet? I’d make that hike. I wanted to be mobile.
I ended up walking around that neighborhood a lot. It was beautiful and I didn’t appreciate it.
I also learned how to drive stick in that neighborhood, on unforgiving hills in an ’82 VW Scirocco with rack and pinion steering.
The house was…off. It was custom-built by a Korean family who had just moved to the States, so the layout and amenities were what a foreign family thought was American. Light switches were never were you thought they should be, some rooms were a little too large and others were a little too small. And, I don’t know…it just had bad juju! It didn’t feel right.
It never felt like home to me, but I think that has more to do with the fact that my family and I feather our nests in entirely different ways. I don’t like “stuff”, they do. I keep things super tidy, they don’t. I wouldn’t say I’m form-over-function, but form is important to me and it just isn’t to them. Walking into that house never felt like a sigh of relief; it was usually a sharp intake of breath followed by a beeline to my bedroom. The space I had control over. I spent late nights in that bedroom IMing far-off friends, plotting my escape from suburbia.
This isn’t to say there weren’t things I liked about the house. In high school, we fixed up the basement; my mom had a craft area, we set up a corner with the dozens of board games my parents had collected over the years (some vintage shit!), and Mom and Dad benevolently bought my brother and I an air hockey table. But like…a REAL one. With blacklight and arcade scoring and everything. My air hockey skills are untouchable because of my hours of practice. Thanks, Mom and Dad.
The back porch was incredible: cathedral-ceilinged, screened-in, the size of my current apartment. When it wasn’t covered in pollen I liked sitting out there during rain storms. I have fond memories with my first boyfriend on that back porch…the best years I had in that house were with him, and (to this day) he is the man who has been the kindest to me. If only I knew how bleak it would get!
Everything seemed possible back then. It doesn’t as much now. Or at least, the possibilities feel so different because 9/11, a recession, and adulthood have happened. It’s a weird time to have come of age.
I looked up the listing for the house. I probably shouldn’t have. When I lived there, our front yard was littered with four cherry blossom trees, two pear blossoms, a dogwood, a Japanese maple, azaleas, and a maze of squared-off hedging. It wasn’t always properly maintained, but it was abundant. There was a picket fence. This is what it looked like when it sold:
Everything just died off. It’s really sad. In that space between the garage and the front door was a whole garden with a big, beautiful Rhododendron. At least the grass is green, right? There’s a joke or a pun in there somewhere.
I’m being dramatic. It’s a nice house. And stripped bare, it’s got a lot of potential.
Whatever. We move on. I don’t remember the last time I was in that house, but I’m sure I was annoyed and frustrated. Now that it’s sold, my dad can properly retire. It’s one less thing for my parents to worry about. Trimmed fat, cleared clutter, etc, etc, etc. They took a hit on it, but at least it’s not draining them anymore. That’s a good thing!
Maybe the new owners will give it the love that we didn’t, as I think the place has promise that was never seized by my family. Moreover, I hope those new owners like the chalk outline of a door on the front porch that my brother drew after seeing Beetlejuice. Chalk doesn’t easily come off of brick. ?