I wrote this on October 21, 2014...
WOW. My childhood home was sold today.
My sister Christina has done a tremendous job dealing with it while my dad and I live in California.
We lived there, as a family, for thirty-one years.
2745 N. Mango. Just south of Diversey. Across the alley from a carpet store.
Ugh. That alley. So annoying. So loud. Cars would come through and beep cuz they were just too busy to slow down. Even in the middle of the night, always in a rush. On two occasions, cars were driving so fast, they tried to turn into the alley and landed on our front steps. TWICE.
We got broken into too many times to count. Once, when my sister was alone, once when my dad was alone. Several mornings, after my dad left for work, I remember him coming back into the house, throwing his keys on to the dining room table, cursing under his breath, "The car got broken into again." Two of my bikes got stolen out of the garage. Our lawn mower even got stolen! By the time I left for college, I was so on edge, I slept with my pull-up bar underneath my bed. I even scared the paper delivery man one morning cuz I thought he was trying to rob us.
But I also remember those nights when the family was all together, attempting to eat thin-crust double sausage pizza on my parent’s waterbed. I remember the small tape player in the bathroom that I would use to play my mix tapes while I got ready for my dates, cuz, ya know, it takes time to make a mullet look good.
As a small kid, I would set up shop in the basement on Friday night, bring my frosted flakes and the milk downstairs and put them in the basement refrigerator. I would watch “Misfits of Science,” “V” and “Miami Vice” and then go to bed early so I could wake up early for Saturday morning cartoons. I’d attach a string to the TV set “on” button and stay put in that fold-out bed ‘til around noon. That basement is where my VHS collection lived, perfectly itemized and categorized. I remember trying to watch “Citizen Kane” down there as a child, cuz I heard that it was an important film. Yeah, I was like, "He's upset cuz he lost his sled??" I was a bit too young to understand. I remember cheering for Ripley while watching “Aliens” with my dad. When she gave the iconic line, “Get away from her, you BITCH!” I almost fell off the couch. I remember watching “Nightmare on Elm Street” down there. ALONE. And the light switch was in the middle of the room, far away from the stairs. I took a deep breath, turned it off and HAULED ASS up those stairs, knowing very well what was behind me.
That basement. From the sleepovers that we had when I was in grade school, to all of the games of pool with Joe & Enz, to the parties where I would ask a cute girl to dance cuz Ready for the World’s “Love You Down” came on.
Those parties!! All of the parties that I threw when my parents were out of town. I fondly remember the Friday afternoon when my buddies and I were arriving back to the house, after buying all of the party supplies, and my parent's car was still there. Huh? We walked in and my mom calmly asked, "So, what are you guys up to this weekend?" I played it coooool. "Oh, nothing. Probably just gonna go see a movie." "Oh, great," my mom replied, "cuz your friend Flo called and left a message. She won't be able to make it to your party." Yeaaaah. They may have caught me for that one but, don’t worry, I got away with several more.
And then there was my room in the attic. I remember how creeky and beat up the stairs were to get up there. It made it impossible for me to sneak girls up to my bedroom. But I still tried. Only to have my mom knock on my door. “Is your girlfriend in there? Please take her home. Now.” I remember how cold it got during the winter and how hot it got during the summer. Covered in Van Halen, Living Colour, Guns n Roses, Bill & Ted’s, Harrison Ford, random buxom women, Dark Knight Returns, Chicago Bears and Michael Jordan posters.
I remember numerous late nights studying. I remember pacing the room when I made that first call to that girl. You know, THAT girl. And how I jumped up and danced after we got off. And how all of our future conversations lasted for HOURS, always starting with those immortal words, “I GOT IT! I SAID I GOT IT!! HANG UP!!”
That room was mine and that house was ours. At least for that moment, it was ours.
But it was only a moment. A critical one. A thirty-one year long one. But not the only one.
So many new moments have been created outside of that house. And although my mom, the linchpin of the family, has passed, our family has grown even larger. For the first time in about fifteen years, now that the house is gone and my dad lives in northern California, we’re gonna have Thanksgiving in sunny LA this year. And we’re gonna watch the Fighting Irish beat up USC. And, afterwards, we will all return to our separate homes, miles and miles apart.
That house was one of the main things that helped me still think of Chicago as my home. Now that it’s gone, I just have to dig deeper. Dig deeper into my Chicago roots while I dig deeper into my love for LA.
That house, that neighborhood, that city helped me become who I am.
But it’s not all that I am or all that I will become.
I hope that doesn't sound too cheesy. But give me a break, they just sold my childhood home.