Saying Goodbye to My Childhood Home

April 27, 2013 at 9:22 am | Posted in Family Ties, Life and Living | Leave a comment
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It was the clear nail polish that brought me to my knees.  It must have been under that radiator for ten years, back when this was my bedroom, back when this was my home.  As I sit there in the empty room knowing that this would be the last time I would ever cry on that floor, the memories come flooding back to me.

Before my parents had moved there, back when I was too young to remember, I didn’t have my own bedroom.  My parents had an apartment in the Bronx and they moved for a better life and more space.  I would finally have my own room, my own space, but I would have to start my short life over.  This new home would become my stability.  This home would always keep me safe.

Over the years, this house, my bedroom, survived many of my phases.  I remember the nights that my brother and I would knock on the wall we shared together to communicate.  I remember decorating my walls with Absolut and Got Milk ads ripped from magazines.  I remember painting my nails every night to match my outfit.  I remember when I had my parents buy me an art desk.  I remember burying my hamsters in the front yard.  I remember taping songs off the radio.  I remember writing most of my poetry in my room, at my desk.  I remember late night phone calls with boys as I lay in bed, listening to The Cardigans and Sophie B Hawkins.   I remember the glow-in-the-dark stars I had on my ceiling, that were basically useless since I only saw them at night when my glasses were off and they were all fuzzy.  I remember the sound of my dad leaving for work in the morning as that was my signal to get up for school.  I remember my witchcraft phase, my candle phase, my incense phase.  I remember dancing to Paula Abdul on the lawn.  I remember going out on to my roof through my window (sorry Mom and Dad — that was true).  I remember friends driving by, honking their horns.  I remember sneaking out the back door only to be caught coming in the front door. I remember it all.  This was my home from age 4 until now, and even though I haven’t lived there in six years, it was still my home when I had to finally say good bye.

And I try to be strong, because I know it’s just a material thing, but that home holds so many memories.  Living there made me who I am in so many ways.  My memory isn’t really that good and having that tangible place has helped me to hold on.

But it is time to let go of the tangible and let it live in my memory.  It is the end of an era that I have to cope with.  No longer do I have that place I can run to when everything is wrong in the world.  I have to push forward.  If I live a full life, this home will only be the first fraction of my existence and another home will be born at some point.  In the grand scheme of life, I will remember this house fondly as my first home.  But it no longer exists anymore.  Only in my memory.

Shifting Roles

February 8, 2011 at 7:34 am | Posted in Family Ties | 1 Comment
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As a caring parent, you understand that it is your responsibility to care for your children.  Parents are the greatest role models in their children’s lives and have the greatest influence over all that they do.  Of course, kids will disagree, argue, and even rebel, but this is the truth.  I know, because I always looked up to my parents and expected that they would take care of me.

What is unique about adulthood, beyond the fact that you have to take care of yourself is that at some point, you actually start taking care of your parents.  I watched my parents play the duel role of caring for my brother and me while also caring for my elderly grandparents.  I always imagined that this happened later on in your life, since that is what I witnessed in my childhood.  But I am now realizing that it is something that starts a lot earlier than that.

When I was 14, my father had a heart attack.  It didn’t happen the way you always imagine it to. It’s a lot less dramatic than that.  He had been running, and felt a heaviness on his chest. He thought it was pneumonia. When he went to the doctor, the doctor said it was a heart attack.  My dad went on to have septuple bi-pass surgery and recover to the point where he was able to squeeze in one last marathon before returning to a life of regular exercise and a new focus on healthier eating.  When my father fell ill, my mother was completely distraught.  I, too, was scared to death, but I had to be strong for my family.  It was at this point that I realized that my parents were not gods — they were not immune to the troubles that befall regular people.  But I still saw my parents as strong and never really thought they could make any serious mistakes.

But now that I am living on my own, paying my own bills, and living my own adult life, I constantly worry about my parents.  They have been hit hard by the recession and I worry about their stability and their health.  I try not to think about it too much as I know it could consume me, but it’s always lingering in my mind.  They are not as young as I like to convince myself they are, but they are not old enough to rely on me either.  Still, I do everything I can to be there for them and to support them without letting it get to me.

I know they may still worry about me a little, but I think they have learned to trust that I will be okay.  I think I now worry about them a whole lot more.  It is in this shifting of roles that I am really amazed.  It is what is meant by the phrase, “circle of life.”  They gave me everything growing up and I plan to return the favor.

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