Wednesday, January 20, 2010

My house

My childhood home has been on the market for nearly a year. Just yesterday my mom called to let me know that a nice family has offered to buy it. My parents bought it when I was 6 months old. Before that we lived in the Southside of Chicago in an area called Scottsdale.

I like to imagine the moment my mom and dad first stepped foot into the home that they would later raise all three of us kids in. I can picture the pro and con list they may have made.

Pro: great neighborhood, terrific schools, cute house.

Con: Freeway nearby, small backyard, ugly carpeting.

I think that maybe it reminded them a little bit of Ireland, what with the sweeping green front yard, the small creek nearby, and the quiet softness of the suburbs. I'd like to think they loved it immediately and knew it was the one.

It's situated on a quiet cul-de-sac. Across the street and through our neighbor's back yard Flag Creek baubles amongst weeping willows and sturdy maple trees. It was there, sitting on the rocks near flag creek that Philip Grant gave me my first kiss. He tilted his head and kissed my 5th grade lips. Years later, when I was just 19, Sitting in nearly the same location, Aaron asked if I would like to spend the rest of my life with him.

As kids my sister, brother, and I spent most of our time down at Flag Creek. It was our turf. In the winter we would find branches to use as sticks and frozen pinecones as a puck to play hockey on its surface. In the summer my brother and I would "borrow" The Bailise's canoe and set sail down the creek to spring rock park on it.

All of my happiest childhood memories involve our modest brick house on Fair Elms Ave. On hot summer days my brother would organize epic games of cops and robbers on our dead end street. He would invite the dorky neighbors that we rarely played with (the oldest boy, in his teen years, started making homemade bombs and placing them in local mail boxes, I'm not sure what ended up happening to him but it wasn’t good) The Alexis's that lived on Woodland, the McLaughlin’s down on Central, my sister's best friend Cathy, Mark from one block over, and David (who had tourettes and always made me cry) from around the corner. We were quite the crew on our bikes riding up and down the street shouting and laughing. Nosey neighbors would peer out the window and shake their heads. Oh, but did we ever have fun!

After my dad died I flew home for a memorial service. The house felt weary and with every creak  I imagined my dads legs walking on the wooden floor boards. The house was thick with memories and sadness. It’s too big for my mom what with it just being her living it now. I know that. I cannot imagine what it is like for her to sleep in the very same room she shared with my dad. I am sure that every room in that house is thick with history. With every turn of the corner she is bombarded with memories of dad. It can’t be easy.

A part of me wishes that we could buy it, that Aaron and I could uproot our lives and take the kids back to Chicago. Amelia could sit in the same kindergarten room that I did and the boys could make that leisurely walk down fair elms to forest hills elementary school. The same route my sister and I took together as kids. Back then when we reached 53rd and Fair Elms there were always bullies. Big Italian boys for the catholic school would call us names and chase us. Michelle would panic and sometimes sit down on the curb near our school and refuse to walk home out of fear. Sometimes a grown-up would come out and call our mom to pick us up. I was always fiercely protective of my siblings. I would lash out if anyone called them a name or made them cry. That’s how I dealt with the bullies. I would put my fists out and shout after the boys refusing to let them scare my sister. I knew their dads would spank them if they touched a girl. After awhile they got bored with us and we were able to walk home without being bothered.

In February I will fly home to Western Springs one last time. I will help my mom pack up the house. My sister will be there too. By then she will be 6 months pregnant. I think it's fitting that we celebrate a brand new life with the end to our old one.

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