Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Home Sweet Home - the house on Bardolino Dr.

This past weekend my siblings, my dad and myself spent some hours beginning the process of cleaning out our childhood home garage

It's been one of those things that has been looming in the background to get done
Part of me felt that'd we'd all be too emotional had we started sooner
Part of me feels that there are still pieces of us that ache at the thought of causing disorder to my mom's chaos and how she left things

Adrian and I then began to have several conversations about the idea of having a home, what we call home, and the horrible feeling of home not feeling entirely like home when you lose a parent

I wanted to take this opportunity to tell the story of my childhood home - because it is important to me and my parents; and I hope that it sparks thoughts and conversation surrounding the significance of having a place to call home

It was sometime in the early 1990s, my parents were living in a two bedroom trailer, with a make shift external room my dad had built for my brothers to share, on the ranch that my dad had been working at for the last seven years or so. My parents had been living in the United States for about 15 years and had several different rental situations, the dream was to own land - a place to call home

There was a lottery that was about to take place, 20 lots in the new development would be designated as low income housing. 20 families would build their own home with the help of a team of contractors; they'd receive a lot, materials, a blue print and help one another, that's how costs would be cut and they'd be able to purchase a $ 40-50K home. My mom picked up an application, and with the help of my oldest brother, Hector, filled it out and submitted it

My parents, our family was selected, along with 19 other families. My mom spent the next several months on site building our home with the help of my two, then teenaged, brothers, the neighbors and my dad as soon as he was off work. I was four years old, and surely no help and more of a walking hazard

Once completed they painted the house white, with blue trimming. It had four bedrooms, two bathrooms, a big front and backyard, one car garage. My brothers would no longer have to share a room, my sister and I still had too - she was ten and I was four. My parents had built strong friendships with our neighbors through the process - everyone helped each other. My childhood was filled with neighbor friends, regular block parties to celebrate any and all occasions, and my parents had accomplished the dream, - they owned their piece of land in America, they literally built their own home

My mom constantly found reasons to paint the house every few years. Eventually she painted each room a different color and/or multicolored. For the first couple of years she grew a basic amount of rose bushes, trees, plants but as time passed and my dad added a fence, the front and backyard became what I call a jungle. My mom would proudly ask me to take photos of her plants and her flowers. Both my parents have a green thumb and could make anything grow - meanwhile I kill succulents/cactuses

I remember a time when there was 8 of us living there - my mom even converted the living room into a bedroom. I remember my brothers throwing parties, getting in trouble, my sister attempting to sneak out of the house, my parents fighting, graduation parties, heartbroken girlfriends crying in our livingroom (my brother - eye roll), my dad chasing my sister's boyfriend down the street, I remember the crazy situations - like when my dad went into a diabetic coma and the ambulance came, the one time my mom hit my dad with a lotion bottle and they verbally fought and someone called the police, I remember the day there were too many people in our house and my sister told us that she was going to have a baby (she was 17) and my dad, my brothers and I stood in the front yard - crying. I remember babysitting several of my younger cousins, my grandparents visiting and playing their portable radio, I remember the first time I went inside after my mom passed away and looked for her hoping to find her and physically I did not find her - but I found memories and moments and still do, I remember having the mariachi play the day we were going to set my mom to rest and how all the neighbors stood in the streets facing our home

I will always call that place home - it has changed, and will continue to change but it will always be home

Below are a few photos - in the next couple of weeks I will be adding some older versions of what it used to look like (I need to locate them - probably in a photo album at home)

What is the story behind your childhood home?

The jungle like front yard

Alexia and my mom, my mom spent a lot of time in the front yard, watering her plants, talking to the neighbors and of course watching her grandchildren as they played in the front yard

My nieces, Alexia and Annayeli, enjoying  ice cream in the front yard

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