Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The end of an era: a eulogy for our family home

this is it. this is the last night in my house.

thank you google street view :)
no. not just my house. my home. this has been my home since i was born. this is the house my parents bought almost 40 years ago. i've seen the black and white photos of my 20-something parents gutting and rebuilding this house. i've heard the stories of how they went weeks without a toilet, and months without a kitchen. how the whole place was a dusty construction zone as they slowly put together what would become the family home. i recall a photo of my mom chilling out reading the newspaper, a roomful of debris around her. she was nestled in a yet to be connected bathtub, as that was the only place to sit.

this place is rife with memories for me. i can remember the back fence being built, which happened when i was only three years old. at four, i remember sneaking a peek at my chanukah presents and then gluing the paper back together to hide my treachery. shockingly, my mom caught on. another act of rebellion at the same age was colouring with my orange crayon on the oak newel post. i really thought the colour matched so well that my artistry would go unnoticed. it didn't, and i was busted yet again.

everywhere i look in this house, i see moments from my past.

the grate at the foot of the main stairs: four year old amanda crouches down and shouts through to the basement "daddy! i'm up here! i can hear you!" hearing my dad's disembodied voice and knowing i'm equally audible yet invisible makes me feel so sneaky!

the vent to the basement, and the orange crayoned newel post (you can still see the crayon from up close)

the front deck: 6 or 7 years old, and i'm leaning over the edge and pretending i'm way high up on a mountain, the blades of grass in the lawn actually a forest miles and miles below. i dangle dangerously over the precipice, using superhuman strength to pull myself back up from the brink of death. sometimes, i used to crawl underneath the porch with our dog Rozz, listening to the rain hit the boards above, and imagining we were hiding out in a dark cave.

the front fence: a driver smashed through and totalled it. all the kids on the street have gotten together for a photo in front of the rubble. but 4 year old amanda is too shy and sits on daddy's shoulders while he takes the picture.

the living room, sometimes the dining room: age 3 and all the kids from the block have come to my birthday party where my parents have rented a projector and are showing cartoons on a big hanging sheet. oh, and this is where i was playing tea when i tripped and hit my face on the table, giving me the scar i have today. but mostly this room is filled the sounds of a roaring fire, laughter, and happy chatter. there we are - me, mom, daddy, and jennie - kneeling around the glass table, playing Fun City, eating chips and a now discontinued dill and chive dip, with the snow falling gently outside. oh, the warmth and the love is so palpable, even though this scene was 25 years ago!

moving on to the dining room, sometimes living room: eating angel food cake with whipped cream and raspberries, yum! little rachel and andrea are there, my friends at age 6, and my friends to this day. passover dinners throughout the years, a slew of friends and loved ones filling the seats around the table, eating, drinking, singing. oh, memories from all over now. all three of us kids trying to play horsey with my dad, his poor back! jennie blatantly breaking pencil crayons under the table and saying she didn't do it. a trail of dog food leading away from the dish and david noshing away on the kibbles under the table. eating "dog poo" (brownies) and "elephant toenails" (garlic bread) at my fright night party. mom is such a trooper!

angel food cake was a birthday must

the backyard: climbing on the roof of the tool shed and cloudgazing. jumping off into the giant snowdrifts after the blizzard of '86! helping my mom in the garden and wishing she didn't have to plant those yucky tomatoes. just carrots and peas and cucumbers please! yup, 30 years ago on these steps i sat and shared a cucumber with my dad, straight out of the ground. i've never tasted better.

the room i'm in now wasn't always the computer room. it was my first bedroom, back when it had pink carpet and panda bear wallpaper. there used to be a colourful translucent butterfly sticker on the window. i thought it was the most beautiful sticker ever. just behind me was my bed, and if i turn around... there i am cuddling with mom in our matching snoopy nighties. so cozy and safe and happy. a few years later and there are two single beds pushed together. now i have a matching smurfette nightie with my little sister jennie, and we both cuddle with mom at bedtime. my mind moves on and now the crib is in here, with baby david asleep as mom rocks the crib.

my parents' room: bouncing on their bed, of course! when i was very little, my dad would lay on his back with his leg in the air and i'd try to climb up it. then he'd swing it around and i'd eventually fall off. that fun game was called "tree". even though jennie and i slept in the same room with beds pushed together, we used to like to have sleepovers on the floor of my parents' room. we'd lay down pillows and duvets and it felt like camping. other times we'd just squeeze into the recliner together and sleep there. baby david had fun jolly jumping here... while we dressed him up in girlie clothes and lace babushkas.

playing dress up is fun!

i haven't even gone to the third floor yet. more rooms, more nostalgia. and these were just my childhood years! there's the last decade i haven't even touched on. backyard bonfires and drinks with friends, hours and hours of continuous rock band with my siblings. i would be writing all through the night if i tried to capture it all. family and friends have all passed through at some point, and i myself have come and gone from this house over the years. but i've always come back.

there are years of memories here - both good times and bad. and now i have to say goodbye to it all. the worst of it is that the house was sold to a condo developer who is going to tear it all down. it won't just be gone from my life, it will razed from the face of the earth. i want to hug the house - the whole thing - and cry and tell it i love it because it feels like a part of me. but i have to remember it is just a house. the stories and memories don't get torn down when the wrecking ball comes. my family will keep those alive.
our lives in a pile of boxes. where will we put it all??

this last week i've been so aware of all the "last"s. this is my last weekend in osborne village. this is the last time i'll walk to work. this is the last time i'll run across to safeway for that last minute somethingorother. this is the last morning i'll be able to walk to my boot camp. this is the last time we'll walk to our favourite burrito place. this is the last time i'll hear church bells in the morning. this is the last time i'll sleep in my room. this is it. it's over.

i'm crying again. i can't help it. i have to let go. i have to stop focusing on the end of one thing and remind myself that it's the start of something new.

i can look forward to inviting my family to dinner in my brand new house. i will enjoy summer bbqs on our lovely patio. we can have backyard bonfires and drinks with friends, once again. i will have an extra bedroom ready for sleepovers with my niece. we are strarting fresh. photos and knickknacks will go up, and it will slowly become ours.

tonight is my last night in my beloved norquay.

tomorrow will be the first night in my new home.

new adventures and memories to come....
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