The House at the Top of The Hill

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Taking the late bus home from cheerleading practice, I would have to yell “Stop at the top of the hill!” to the schoolbus driver, who would invariably be listening to WMMR turned up nice and loud while driving a bunch of rowdy jocks, bandies and club nerds home from after-school activities. If I didn’t, it would mean a looong walk down from McCollugh’s, which was the next stop.

My brother is selling the house we grew up in. It’s a house made for a family, sadly fallen to neglect and disrepair for a whole washlist of reasons to tedious to go into. I left it when I got married in 1987 and never looked back. This feeling of nostalgia arising from the news of the sale is unexpected.

Once our father passed away, I ‘d urged my brother to sell up and start fresh somewhere new, somewhere without the emotional baggage tied up in the bricks and mortar of our family home. It is important to note here that I have no financial interest whatsoever in the property. My brother spoke to me at length (yelled and raged and fumed) about how I was 100 different kinds of wrong about starting fresh. He had “buddies” who were going to help him fix up the place. Having moved and rebuilt homes a number of times at that point, I advised caution about employing “buddies” but again, I was 100 different kinds of wrong (mostly because I am a “girl” and don’t live in the real world). My doubts about the time, effort and cost of fixing the house up were also pooh-poohed ( because I couldn’t possibly know how these things work ). Shortly after that particular conversation my brother and I stopped speaking to one another.

The other day I peeked at the realty site and saw that the house was finally under offer. Looking through the photos of the interior, memories rose unbidden: the sound of the screen door (long replaced) with glass louvers used to make when we’d run out to play on a summer day, the winey smell of the apple trees (cut down more than 30 years ago) in September, delight at looking out the back door and seeing bunny rabbits in the back-yard on a spring morning, the way the dial phone used to ring, running like a maniac down the stairs to answer it,and oh God! Please let it be Jeremy!, the dining room: ravioli and gravy on a Sunday afternoon and an assortment of my friends or my brother’s friends just dropping by and pulling up a chair and a plate to the table, in the big (in my memory) screen porch where I’d practice rollerskating (also long gone), running from the front door down the driveway to the mailbox where I to look for the next letter from my Dutch fiancé (now my husband of 30 years)…

No visible repairs have been made to the house either inside or out. It would seem that the plans with the “buddies” fell through. My thoughts turned to what could have been done to remodel it, and then, realizing that this was a direct route down What-if-crazy-street, imagining instead a wish list for the new family who will be living there soon.

I wish for them good times and lots of people who love them filling the rooms, holidays with merriment and music, not stress and shouting, many backyard cookouts and people staying until the wee hours because its just so nice to be there. Above all may they find there the stability and joy that never took root for us.

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2 responses »

  1. Hi V. We all host those embedded memories somewhere in the catalogue file inside of our heads. My surviving brother and I didn’t speak for years after he abandoned his third wife (!) and two infant daughters for a 4th. My wife and I remained close to my ex-sister in law and the girls who are the same age as my own. We all went to each others weddings. My brother and I are speaking now. Two years ago I received an invitation to his 3rd daughter’s wedding in New Jersey.

    “Oh uea?!” said I. I’ll fix his ass! I’m going! So I flew to Jersey and showed up. It turned out better than I expected. Hugs, kisses, drinks, cigars. And I met his youngest daughter. All the past was forgotten -and forgiven. He doesn’t ask me about his third wife and his other children. And I don’t bring it up.

    It was funny. Some of the groom’s family asked who I was. “I’m Alfred’s brother.” Many didn’t know he had a brother!

    Best regards from Florida.

    • Thanks for stopping by! Are you out of harm’s way this hurricane season?
      I think a lot of my brother’s animosity toward me is a result of hearing my father’s views on women, me, my “superiority” complex etc. etc. It is his chosen reality. Shame he’s missing out on two wonderful nephews and a fantastic brother-in-law.

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