Joseph O'Brien 6 p.m., March 4
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That Old House - Reflections on a Childhood Home
THAT OLD HOUSE: Reflections on a Childhood Home
Recently, I was online looking up property values, with an eye toward maybe buying instead of always renting. Then, since I don't know much about this stuff, I decided to look up some of the properties my folks used to own, places we lived while I grew up. Cuz I knew what my folks paid and when they paid it, it was a chance to see how much property values had increased, in how many years, etc.
It was kinda spooky to bring up info on the house on Durham Road where I lived from third grade through junior high.
I recently wrote a story where I mentioned how this place still kinda haunts me - it's where a lot of the worst things in my life happened, the things that still keep me from being the person I feel I would have been - should have been – were it not for certain soulless people.
It turns out someone bought the house in 1990, but they only lived there about two years before moving out. They didn't put the house up for sale, they pretty much just disappeared and abandoned it. Nobody has lived there since: the grass grew into a forest, shingles fell off, paint peeled, and the place pretty much seems to have become the neighborhood haunted house!
Even though it's a suburban neighborhood, it's so obviously abandoned that homeless people regularly break in and squat in there. This conjures up the strangest images and emotions in me, winos taking a dump right there in the corner of my childhood bedroom.
The city came in this year and legally took over - even if the original owners show up now, they're outta luck. The city put in alarms to keep out intruders, pulled out the ruined carpets, mowed the lawn forest, and that's about it. They haven't even gotten around to putting it up for auction yet, and the most current pictures posted online still make it look about as haunted as my memories of the place.
Man, I was weirding out.
Impulsively, I decided to put in a bid fer the place. I told friends straight up that, if I get the land, I plan to knock the house down right away. It would cost far too much to bring up to code now, and it'd cost half that to build a new duplex - and the duplex would rent to two families. As long as I could keep renters living there, and find a property manager to do the basic upkeep and collect the rent on the cheap, seemed like an almost surefire moneymaker.
I’ve never even invested in a washing machine, let alone property, so this was all pretty new to me. But I was on a roll and not about to slow down.
I called the city to ask about whether it would be possible to take the house down with a collapse explosion or a controlled burn (no way).
I was actually looking up guys who work with dynamite and not even thinking about any of the whys behind me being suddenly obsessed with, well, blowing up my old family home.
Luckily, my brain really does function some of the time, so I began to realize just how obsessive I was getting. I've always felt burned over the way my life turned so dark during those years - and here I was wanting to punish the house!
I've decided this is unhealthy to pursue. Eventually, I'd probably find myself on the property and, really, I like not thinking about that house and those years too often. It was actually a cozy pad and, well, the house doesn't deserve punishment.
Sher, it's been busted up a bunch and abandoned, just like I once was. But maybe someone will still be able to come along and fix it up, give it a little propping-up and make it cool ‘nuff once again.
Someone who cares about it. Someone who sees what's really in there, sees what the place is really made of, and realizes how strong the supports really are underneath it all.
Someone who sees what once was, and what still could be. Someone who wants to help bring it back into the light.
We could all use just such a someone…
TOP 5 CLUES THAT YOUR LOCAL BAR IS FULL OF JUNKIES
5) People keep trying to sell you car stereos.
4) Customers complaining about no locks on the bathrooms.
3) Nobody ever touches the munchies.
2) Restroom vending machine dispenses clean needles.
1) There are junkies everywhere.
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