A house full of memories
While in New York earlier this week for my Aunt Evelyn’s funeral, my parents sat me down to break the news that at some point in the foreseeable future, they’ll be selling their house. They moved into it a few months before I was born and have been there ever since (not literally, of course – my dad goes to Stop & Shop several times a week). I love my family’s house so dearly that I wrote about it earlier this year.My room in my parent’s house has undergone many transformations since its grand opening in 1973. It went from being a haven for a family of Snoopy and Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls to a Sting memorabilia shrine to an exhibit of Absolut Vodka ads. When I was 12, my parents visited me at summer camp and allowed me to pick new wallpaper and carpet from a bunch of samples. That was one of the last times I was allowed to offer any input into the room in which I slept.When I left for college, my bedroom was converted into a computer room. Nearly seven years ago, it also became the room where my nephew’s crib was installed for his occasional sleepovers, thereafter consigning me to my sister’s old room upstairs whenever I visited. When my niece was born four years ago, she moved into the computer room for her overnight stays, my nephew moved up into my sister’s old room, and I received a transfer into the playroom. At some point it was mentioned that I might sleep in the downstairs study during future visits. I logically figured after that I would be made to stay in the garage. My room is one of the most obvious areas of the house that has experienced change. Some of the house’s other alterations over the years have been more subtle.A detective might be the sole person other than a member of our family who could look at the living room carpet and still see the stains left by our late dog, Roxanne. The owners of the rug cleaning company in town probably sent their kids to college with the money they made on steaming that carpet in the 14 years Roxanne was alive. However, insiders will likely chuckle at and identify the traces of nervousness left by a six-pound poodle excited about creeping illegally in a room off limits to her.The wall on the stairway down to the den is now smooth, but it used to be lined with chunks of stone. When I was little, I would tiptoe downstairs and camouflage myself in the rock to hide from my dad. When absolutely positive that I had been unobserved, I would launch what I was convinced was a sneak attack and surprise him after crawling the length of the floor from the stairs to the back his chair.The outside of the house, under my parent’s bedroom window, is presently filled with shrubs, but whenever I pass the spot I can still clearly see the log cabin that was my seventh birthday present. My dad and Grandpa Moe assembled it, and my mom decorated the inside. I proudly served for years as log cabin gatekeeper and the unofficial kids’ block association president, until inclement weather, termites and teenage indifference relegated the cabin to the curb.Living on the edge of a golf course has meant seeing a wide assortment of wildlife over the years. Geese, pheasants, turkeys, woodchucks and deer have all graced our end of the cul-de-sac. When I was in first or second grade, there was a trio of stray cats that became regulars when our neighbors started feeding them. The cats, along with the neighbors, became like family. We named them (the cats, not the neighbors) Cashmere, Grey Ghost and Domino. The cats haven’t been seen in ages, but the neighbors are still like family.No fire has been lit in the fireplace for as long as I can remember, but there used to be one every Sunday night when I was a kid. My family would eat dinner in front of it and listen to my parent’s old records. My sister and I always got a kick out of throwing some sort of store-bought chemical morsel into the fireplace that would emit colored sparks when reacting with the heat. I can’t say for sure, but the fires ceased either when the EPA uncovered our pollution or when birds discovered the chimney.Speaking of birds, there didn’t use to be fake owls perched on the back of the house. But, there also didn’t use to be an awning over the patio that is apparently a more attractive nesting spot than the backyard trees for a few birds every summer. In recent years my mom has taken to battling the birds that arrive nearly every July and August morning to relieve themselves down the side of the house and attempt to build a home with sticks, hay and grass. Based on the timeliness and persistency of their annual return, I think the birds are ready to declare victory in the war.It’s always been difficult to find a calendar in the house. I always figured that was because my dad notes the change of seasons based on the state of the red maple tree outside the kitchen window. My mom faithfully calls me every year around my birthday in April to let me know that the pink and white azaleas that line the front of the house are blooming. Sadly, the dogwood tree that waits a week or two after the azaleas to flower lately has showed signs that it might only have a few years of flourish remaining in its long life to shade the porch.As much as I wish my parents would reconsider their move, fortunately, I take comfort in knowing that no matter the address or location of the room in which I sleep, as long as my family is there, it’ll always be home.E-mail questions or comments to email@example.com.
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