A Love Letter to Mom and Dad’s House
I’ll be sleeping in my parent’s house for what is likely to be the last time tonight. They’re selling our house. I’m happy for them to be moving somewhere better than Norristown and to be simplifying their lives. I will very much miss this house. I will miss its brick walkway, our big back yard with lots of shade, the fireplace that keeps us warm in the winter and is filled with lovely candles for the rest of the year, the hardwood floors, the giant living room window perfect for watching thunderstorms, its stacks of photographs.
Sometimes the small size of this house meant waiting forever for the bathroom in the morning, hearing everything on every TV or computer in any room…at all times. You couldn’t escape my dad’s snoring. Its size only came in handy when Brucey-Boy was making eggs and bacon on Sunday morning and the scent of the sweet sweet pork wafted about and woke me from my coma. Our small house also meant there was no such thing as a private phone call. I spent many-a-summer-night sitting on the hood of our cars, staring up at the sky and talking to friends, crushes and far-away cousins. We also sat on the hood of the car to watch the fireworks for East Norriton Day. A holiday that celebrated winning goldfish in carnival games and eating funnel cake. We lived close to the high school…but I rarely walked to and from school. That would have made me weird. We could always hear the marching band and drum line practicing at night. I hated it then, but now when I hear it a faint tinge of nostalgia and a glimpse of the “glory days” passes through me. But really, those years were just the beginning.
For my late elementary to middle school years, my tiny bedroom was covered in pictures of the Backstreet Boys. Brian Littrell was my favorite, obviously. I’d memorized all of the Boys’ full names, place of birth and favorite foods/colors/places. I even stood outside of MTV studios and screamed when they were visiting the TRL studios. My friend and I painted our “We Love You!” banner on that bedroom floor. The bookshelf filled with issues of Seventeen and Tiger Beat. I still kept my dollhouse under my vanity table, then.
After that, I painted the room a different color and slowly began removing my magazine clippings of Brian, Nick, AJ, Kevin and Howie from my walls. I was trying to grow up, I guess. I then covered the walls with posters of old movie stars and the Beatles. It was a step towards some sort of identity in those awkward years. I guess it was then I felt, “well, you should do something different.”
Which leads me to when, in high school, I moved into my sister’s room when she went off to college. I painted the walls a deep purple and the ceiling black with white swirls. No really, I did. I was “punk rock” at this phase. Posters of the Clash, Blink 182 and “God Save the Queen” were now hung about. Bumper stickers from places like Hot Topic and Spencers stuck to my desk, dresser and for a brief time, to the white electric guitar that sat idly in the corner, generally un-played. There was a skateboard under my bed, also un-used. By the time I graduated high school, the room was painted a nice, cool green and my manic panic hair dye was replaced with knit hats, long necklaces and stolen vinyl from my parent’s collection. I replaced The Perks of Being a Wallflower with Cat’s Cradle. I tossed my rubber bracelets and plaid pants. Though, I think that girl was pretty cool – she was an editor of the school paper (mostly concert reviews), went into Philly to see her favorite bands that felt so her own, she was on student council and graduated in the top 10 of her class. She was in the school plays. She went to shows, not concerts, shows at the Trappe, Collegeville and Phoenixville YMCA on the weekend with her awesome “older” friends (they were a year older and felt so cool when she would crash at their dorms when they went off to college). She would dance in the pit, maybe even skank. She’d buy the CD’s of the bands she thought were cute and then stacked their albums in her room, to display her life, her identity in music. She wore a hot pink and black prom dress and posed with her girlfriends on that brick pathway, making goofy faces and looking their best.
Slowly the two bedrooms became a hodge-podge of my sister’s things and mine as we both came back and forth from our lives in different cities. Now, they both feel like guest rooms, with remnants of Aly and me in them – our high school class photos, academic awards, a few books and of course some childhood stuffed animals. I pray for the safety of Nancy (who has a red bowtie) and Oatmeal as they get packed away to wherever my parents land next.
When whoever moves in next, they won’t…well, they won’t know that spot on the floor where my sister dumped water on me when I was reaching under the Christmas tree to water it and screamed bloody murder, the rest of the family howled with laughter. They won’t look at the freezer door and remember the time my dad swung it and it hit me in the face, busted my lip…and then I passed out. As my parents panicked around me, my sister stumbled groggy out of bed at 2 am and asked us to keep it down. They won’t see the scary basement door and remember how I feared it as a kid (ok, MAYBE they’ll see that one). They won’t look at the fireplace and remember how mom used to hang our snow-soaked clothes over it and covered us in blankets and filled us with hot cocoa. They won’t pull up to the driveway and remember how, on the first day I got my driving permit, hit the gas instead of the brake and crunched the front bumper into a parked utility truck. Or how, in the summer, my mom would water the flowers in the morning and spray the hose at my window to wake me up. The house will not ding every hour from the grandfather clock. It might not have cats to knock things over on the mantle. Who knows what this house will be next.
For me, this house is still home. Despite having lived in Philadelphia for years and now living in London. Our little stone house is home. And I’ll miss this place. But what an adventure it will be to make new homes in new places for myself and with my family. Here’s hoping my parents still hang on to our old report cards, ticket stubs, art projects and t-shirts from plays and concerts. Someone’s gotta keep it all safe. I’m a sentimentalist, can you tell?