No, not that kind of family news. A couple big events over the last two weeks in my extended family. First, one of S.’s sisters got engaged. So far, we’re the only married folks in the family, so it will be cool to have another guy around on holidays and whatnot. He’s a really good guy and we get along great whenever we’ve been together, and the sister-in-law seems happy, so that’s all good. Of particular interest to my Denver readers, this means we’ll finally be visiting, since the wedding will be out there. Potentially as early as the end of the year.
The other big news was that my step-dad sold his house and moved. I had been lobbying for that ever since my mom died nine years ago, but at first it was understandably difficult for him to make the move. There were a couple times when he came close to putting it on the market, but he could never take the full plunge. In the interim years, he added a couple more sets of bad memories on top of all the memories of my mom, and it really became a health issue, I think, to get him out of there. Thankfully, he finally came around, put it on the market last summer, and waited out the market until he got an offer in March. They closed May 1, all the money came through, and the house now belongs to someone else and he’s happily holed up in an apartment in the Northland.
It’s crazy to think that he lived there almost 20 years. We moved in the week of Thanksgiving, 1987, during my junior year of high school. So I really only lived there a little less than two years before I headed off to college. I spent parts of the next five summers there, along with holidays, a week in 1997 when I was moving back from Lawrence, and then a little over a year there after my mom died. I guess that’s why it doesn’t seem like 20 years, since I really didn’t spend a great deal of time there. For being a home my parents had for so long, it didn’t feel like the house I grew up in, or anything like that.
I remember my first night in the house. We had driven back from California over the course of a week, with a long weekend at my grandparents’ in western Kansas along the way. We got into KC Sunday afternoon (the day of the infamous Chiefs game when there were something like 8000 people in Arrowhead, the true nadir of the franchise) and went straight to our new, empty house. My parents were staying with friends that night, but the cat and I, along with a small TV we had brought along, camped out in my new bedroom. At first, it was kind of cool, running through this big empty house and discovering all its spaces, making calls to old friends to let them I know I was back in town again. But right around bedtime, it became kind of spooky. I remember closing my door, locking it, and putting my sleeping bag part-way into a closet, just to be safe.
The last time I was there was last July, when my step-dad had his bypass surgery. That was the same week he put it onto the market, so I knew it might be my last time there. As the week wore on, the emotional strain of what he was going through wore me down, and on Sunday, after spending the previous two nights with friends, I just wanted to get all my stuff out of there and get back to Indy. Had I had a proper final moment in the house, I don’t know what I would have done. I’m obviously a big memory guy, and the exchange of property won’t do anything to dilute all the memories I have of that house. But it is a little strange to not have that as a destination anymore: on our next trip to KC this summer, we’ll be staying in a hotel rather than with family. Maybe if I somehow get famous, ten or 20 years from now I’ll be able to knock on the door and say, “I used to live here. Would you mind me looking around for a minute or two?”