From 1982 to 1995 my family and I lived in one house. Haynie Avenue, a little yellow three bedroom one bath with a separate two car covered carport (with laundry room attached).
When I think about the house a FLOOD of images come over me. The first one is the back door. Glass, roll out slats over a screen. We perpetually seemed to have a broken slat or two. I’m sure I was never the cause of any of those breaks.
I think of the front porch, my weird porcelin dog sculpture that sat there until it literally turned to dust one day, the giant church pew repurposed as a bench for Grandma to sit and widdle on or Mom to sit and watch us play in the front yard.
I think about the basketball goal and the countless hours of badly played hoops it saw from me and dad and my brother and sisters. I think about the “junk room” that was my brother’s bedroom when he joined us again on occasion. I remember the roll out bed under my sister’s daybed that I’d sleep on more often than not, because I couldn’t stand to sleep alone.
I remember the recurring nightmare I had of drumming on the roof of the carport while sitting on a giant stool, only for the stool to disappear and me to tumble to the ground. Waking up just before the fall would have killed me for sure. It’s weird what a house means to you decades after the fact. The things you recall and the things you’ve forgotten.
I remember the hole in the wall in my bedroom paneling, the bunk beds and the water bed and million promises, bribes, threats and otherwise to get me to stay in my bed no matter what shape it took.
I remember watching Die Hard with the family on VHS, and buying a new TV and VCR because the old ones looked terrible when we tried to watch Die Hard 2. I remember hidden Frito Lay chips in Dad’s underwear drawer, the toddler potty that got used occasionally until my sister and I were in junior high (because we were a family of sometimes six with one bathroom!). I remember Micah’s house behind us and Mama Rushing across the street and Ellie and Jenny next door. I remember mowing Ms. Dean’s yard, and biking to buy her a carton of cigarettes and I remember a time when a 10 year old buying smokes for the old lady next door sounded like a nice guesture and not child abuse of some sort.
I remember the built in shelves that seemed to overflow with toys (and the envy and awe on friend’s faces when they saw it). I remember good times, and laugh and love and a little too much family togetherness for those 13 years. I remember my home.
But, as a reminder that all is transient and nothing is permanent, I also remember that my mom and dad suffered for the first three weeks or so that they lived on Haynie Avenue as baby Joel cried and screamed because he missed the “old home”, one that adult Joel doesn’t even recall. Home is where you make it, and we made a hell of a home on Haynie.
For now, I’m Joel, this is my story or one of them anyway, thanks for listening.