my childhood home
is up for sale
my grandparents bought it in the 1950s, using money they borrowed from my grandfather's sister and the bank. they moved there from manhattan with their three children; their fourth and last was born sometime later.
it was a 3 family semi-detached brick house in what was still a quiet little neighborhood in New York City. my aforementioned great aunt owned the other half of the building, and my grandparents rented the two apartments on the top floor to boarders.
my family grew up in that house; they went to neighborhood schools, dated people from the area, got local jobs.
my mother married a boy from flushing and my grandfather let them move into the front upstairs apartment. one of my father's sisters lived in the back apartment, and one of my mother's brothers lived in the corresponding apartment in my aunt's house. my other uncle still lived in his old room, and my other aunt had moved with her husband to Iowa.
soon after I was born, my grandfather knocked down the divide between the apartments, giving us the odd arrangement of a house with two bathrooms, three bedrooms, and two kitchens. a comfortable living space for a couple, their child, and two cats.
I lived there for seventeen years.
I have more memories than I can begin to tell; playing on the swings in Cunningham Park, sneaking through the fence to play with my cousins, learning to ride my bike in the driveway...
the basement was somewhat finished. there had always been a workbench in one half, and a rather incongruous stove and refrigerator in the other. my uncle's drum set was also there, and my band (and probably his, years ago) would play there. my grandfather would leave soda in the fridge for us.
after my parents divorced, my father and i stayed there (why him, and not the house owner's daughter, i'll never know) until i graduated high school.
after we left, my grandfather closed the divide and rented out the front apartment. i stayed in the back during my first few breaks; once my mother finally settled i started staying with her during my off time.
then my grandfather died.
and now the house is on the market.
we've all been going there slowly and deconstructing it; taking what was ours, what we might need, but leaving so many memories.
too many memories.
there's really not much tying me to the old neighborhood. my only local friend moved away when I was eight; my aunt sold her half of the house when I was ten.
But I walk through the halls I used to run in, sit in the beds my family and I slept in, eat at the table my grandfather built, and I feel so lost, because this is another ending.
I'll never be able to come back home.
Will the new owner care about what transpired in this old brick house? Will s/he treat it as lovingly as we did? Will countless children and grandchildren play in the backyard? Will s/he tear up the concrete etchings of the names of my grandmother's first three grandchildren, knock down the structures we used to sit on, cut down the tree we would gather under?
And will I care?
Or will I just mourn, because these memories are no longer mine to revisit?