This post has been a long time coming. I’ve actually written about a dozen versions of it in my head over the last month. But how do I even begin to tell the story of something that’s been there for as long as I can remember? She’s seen most of my fondest memories. And many of my sadder ones, too. She’s truly a member of the family and always will be. And not one person from my past has been unaffected by the news that she won’t be around anymore.
Yes, I am talking about a house. A home really. My parents are moving out of my childhood home. Today is their last day. Our last day. We’re all very excited about the change and working hard to make the transition as smooth and as seamless as possible. Still, it’s hard to say goodbye to something that’s been in our lives for so many decades.
The house has been in my family since early 1977. Let’s try to put that into perspective.
- Jimmy Carter was elected President.
- Elvis Presley was alive (but would die later that year).
- France was still executing by guillotine.
- The World Trade Center construction was just completed.
- Movies like Star Wars, Annie Hall, Rocky & Saturday Night Fever were playing in theaters.
But those are the world’s memories. I was just a wee pup when we moved into the house. I’ve got lots of my own.
(screen goes blurry, sound of harps playing)
My father designed our house. Much in the style of the Swiss chalet he and my mother had come to love. Together, they found a spacious lot on a cul-de-sac in a brand new neighborhood called Tall Timbers. The area previously was completely undeveloped and all of the houses were just going up. Since living there, the amount of raccoons, rabbits, squirrels, possum, armadillos, snakes and so on that my father and brother had to learn to wrangle was innumerable.
Just another day in the life of our cat, Sodapop. (Yes, she was named for The Outsiders.)
Of course, we had contractors, builders, plumbers, electricians and everyone it takes to build a dream house. But my dad also did a lot of the work himself with his own two hands. I can still remember being a small child and holding up every vertical piece of the railing for him … there must have been fifty or sixty … as he nailed them to the giant beam across the balcony.
My parents, both of whom had full-time jobs, worked their asses off to get us in to that house. We were living in a crappy apartment complex (where my only real memory was getting pink eye) and it was more than time to go.
The first few nights we slept in the house we didn’t even have furniture there yet. We all just slept on sleeping bags on the floor of the den together. It was a big, beautiful house and it would take a while to complete and furnish lovingly. And nothing … from drapery to flooring to wallpaper to fixtures … was taken lightly. Some of it even managed to stick around for the entire 36 year run.
Anyone remember where this most unique wallpaper hung?
Of course, with this kind of attention to detail construction and decorating, you would think that the house was a museum. Right? You would think that my brother and I were stymied in our ability to really live within its walls.
But you’d be wrong.
Take a look at what they let me do with my room.
And, when that wasn’t enough, I toilet papered the whole thing for a few weeks.
But my youthful antics weren’t confined to my own room. As I flipped through old pictures I found while cleaning out the house, I found proof of party after party they actually allowed me to have in their beautiful home … as a teenager. And they were all a lot of fun but the one that takes the cake was when we hired a band to play in the driveway. My parents were way cooler than I can EVER hope to be.
Thanks to Facebook, I recently tracked down the drummer (my old friend, Bill) to send him the audio cassettes I made of the show that night.
After leaving for college, I just kept coming back. It was always such a warm and welcoming place to be.
My parents are turning over the keys tomorrow so today … well, it was hard. It was just my dad and me, puttering around that empty, dark house. I watched him move from room to room, still fixing things, still making improvements. They just don’t make houses like they used to. People either. The immaculate condition in which my parents provided their baby to the new owners is a testament to who they are.
Thanks, Mom and Dad. For absolutely all of it.
The family who called 3850 Red Cypress Drive “home” (1977-2013)
Taken April 29, 2013
And one more thing, we did something a little silly during our photo session yesterday. The earliest picture we have of the house was in 1976, near the end of its construction with my Dad and brother. Yesterday, we recreated it. ‘Cause we’re a funny, little family.
Right now, wherever you are, will everyone please join me in raising a glass to 3850 Red Cypress Drive?
She was a wonderful place to live, to grow and to be.
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Old friends, have any memories you want to share? I’d love to hear them.
New friends, welcome to my childhood.
Whoever is last to leave, please lock up on your way out.