Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Our House

I did something today I promised myself I would never do again, but I just couldn't help myself. I was drawn in like a moth to the flame. Like flies to shit. Like...why do these analogies include bugs? I hate bugs, they are creepy crawly....sorry. I'm back. I'm distressed by what I saw today. And in order to fix this distress, I'm going to need about a million dollars. I'm a little distressed about that too.

I'm in my hometown in Jersey this week, and one of my favorite things to do is ride my bike on the boardwalk in Ventnor, then on down to Margate (no boardwalk in Margate, it got washed away in a hurricane before I was born) and then down to the Longport Point. I grew up in Margate, in a fabulous house, one of those houses that people still talk about with fond memories. It was the house that made everyone feel welcome. I was shattered when we had to sell it, but unfortunately I had little say in the matter being that I was only 12. There was a lot of family strife going on at the time, and our house was a casualty of war.

So today I took my bike and went for a ride. It's a perfect day here, not too hot, not too cool, light breeze. I was having a wonderful ride. And then I did it. I tried to stop myself but my bike seemed to have a mind of its own. I rode up to my old street. I stopped. I parked my bike. And I sat in front of our old house.

And I cried.

I didn't cry because seeing the house brings back memories - even though it does. I didn't cry because I resent that we had to sell it - well, not anymore I don't. And I didn't cry because of how much I miss living here at the shore - even though I do. I cried because our house, the house that so many people loved and still love to this day, is now the shabby house on the street.

Nothing has been done to it. Nothing. No gardening. No painting. No sprucing up. Nothing in over 20 years. It sits there - peeling, chipping, rusting; with broken windows and long-dead rosebushes. It is, in a word, unloved. It has not been loved since we moved away all those years ago.

And even worse than being unloved, it is empty. Nobody is there to live in this wonderful, warm, welcoming home. Nobody appreciates the basement that was a speakeasy during prohibition, and all the spooky rooms where the hooch was hidden. The porch with the ocean views. The beautiful stained glass windows. The marble fireplace we sat in front of on cold winter nights. The tiny backyard where our dogs would play. The amazing architecture, the hand-made crown molding, the gorgeous parquet floors (oh I'm sorry, the gorgeous parquet floors are covered with carpet now, the one thing the buyers did do to the house. Who the fuck carpets parquet floors???)

To backtrack a bit, we sold the house because we had to - long long story that I don't wish to go into here. It was just before the casinos really hit in Atlantic City, and the buyers got their summer home for a song. A summer home. My house became a "summer home". Nauseating. A year later it had quadrupled in value. Today it is worth 10 times what we sold it for. Despite their good luck due to our family misfortune, the new owners never truly had the chance to enjoy their summer home. Shortly after they bought it, their daughter was killed in an accident. I don't think they ever really recovered from her death. Now they are very old, and very ill. They have issues with their remaining son. (I found all this out from the next door neighbors, who when I told them that I had grown up in the house - and they saw my distrees - were more than willing to fill me in.) And so the house sits, run-down and neglected. A casualty of war again.

When I saw it today I felt like it was calling out to me - as if it is waiting for one of us to come back - wondering what it did to deserve to be abandoned and ignored. I am terrified that it will be sold and torn down like Maloney's; like so many of the beautiful old homes here at the shore. I just can't let that happen to our house.

And so I need a million dollars, at least, to save our house. Lottery tickets, prayer, and begging are all included in the first plan of action. I haven't worked out the second plan yet. Clearly if I knew how to make a million dollars - I would already have a million dollars. Maybe even two.

I'm definitely a little distressed.


Mariangela said...

I will help you if I win! In the mean time, you and your old house will be in my prayers.

Idiots carpet parquet floors.

-miss ya :)

yournamehere said...

If I ever hit the big jackpot I'll give you what's left after my lifeless body is found in the company of women of ill repute in the penthouse suite of the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino.

Brookelina said...

Mari - thank you.

Todd - thank you too. I'll make sure you have a funeral worthy of someone of your stature.

Loz said...

sorry to hear it, brooke! i hope your house ends up in the right hands (if not yours) and someone really takes care of it again.
i just watched the episode of Lost last night where we find out about Hurley winning the lottery - you should use his cursed numbers for sure.

yournamehere said...

I look forward to the "Plastic Bag Mass Grave Amadeus" Burial.

MoDigli said...

oh. that is very sad! I'm sorry you had such a bad day. I wish I could win the lottery, too, and help you out.

:(((( ....

I hope you feel better SOON.
Have you thought of contacting the old, heartbroken owners? Maybe they would meet you halfway somehow, knowing the history? is that naive of me to even think?

Hmmmm. It's just a real shame it's gotten to this point of disrepair.

Brookelina said...

Actually I have thought about contacting them, but even if they offered to sell at below market value it would still be way out of my league. I'm po'! Maybe I'll find myself a rich Florida geezer....ewwwwwwwww. I'll just pray a lot. LOL Thanks!

Brookelina said...

Todd, I was going to have you cremated and spread your ashes over a bar for recreational lesbians.

yournamehere said...

Ashes spread over rec-lesbians? My only chance for a three-way.

Brian said...

There is a house right up the road from me. Its called the Octagon House has eight sides. It was an old plantation house before the civil war. It has quite an illustrious history. And its slowly wasting away. At one point they were storing apples in it. Its truly sad to see something like that essentially go to waste. But don't give up hope. There's still time.

Brian said...

BTW...How the hell do you get so many comments. I have comments envy. Your list is bigger than my list...You lucky girl! :-)

Brookelina said...

Brian, thanks, I am not going to give up!

As for comments, I comment on other blogs a lot, so my fellow bloggers feel sorry for me and return the favor. I also add them all to my bloglist as I know it makes me feel good to see my name on theirs. Try it!

Brookelina said...

Todd - my thoughts exactly. Even in death you'll be getting some.

Miss Browneyedgirlie said...


I'm sorry to hear that about your house...I feel the same way about the house I grew up in. Even though I'm currently still living here with my parents (I know!), this house has been in our family since before my dad was born.

And my parents will probably sell it sometime in the not so distant future -- I definitely can't afford to buy it...and I don't want anyone else living in it.

Darn growing up anyway.

It sucks.

Anonymous said...

I'd give you money, but it certainly wouldn't be a million, and my money is only good for monopoly in the US.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry.

Although this is slightly beside your point, I recently visited my old neighborhood. It wasn't run down. It was thriving. Too much. All the places we used to play--the fields and the trees--had been lathered in cement and built upon. Turned into cul-de-sacs.

There was this stump that my big brother used to climb with his friends. I was too little to make it up there. They would look down upon me and laugh. As I grew older, I slowly gained the courage to attempt the climb. I failed often. When finally big enough, I made the trek to the top of the world. And then I got too big. As a teenager, the stump seemed small. I could almost hop up on top.

Now it is completely gone. It's like when parents mark the walls of their house to measure a child as she grows older. Then the new owners of the house come along and repaint the walls. History covered up, forgotten.

I'm sorry for your pain, Brooke. I wish I could take a bicycle ride with you through your past.

Anonymous said...

That's a sad tale indeed, and my heart goes out to you. Well written too, and not wanting to sound trite - a good idea for a script I think. Certainly the basis for a good story.

gone said...

I had a similar experience when I returned to my former house in Pennsylvania...but I was about 10 at the time. The reason I wept was not that the house was in disrepair, but because it was altered to the point of irrecognizability.

Great post. I'm glad you're in Jersey. Maybe it'll help with the whole location dilemna you are having.

joanne said...

Poor Brooke! I think I would be a massive wreck if I actually sat in front of the house I grew up in. I haven't been there in years. The people DID renovate it. It doesn't look anything like it did when I lived there. I wish I had known you were in Jersey. I could have met you. I just got back from NY last night. :-(

Brookelina said...

You are all so great. I don't know if anyone is reading this still, but I just have to tell you that I found out this morning that the owner of the house - the one that was so sick - passed away. How weird is that? Talk about freakish timing. The house will be put on the market at between 800k-900k. Yikes! Our friend is a realtor filled us in, she also said that due to the new restrictions, it most likely won't be torn down, but restored. Let's hope so!
Thanks again to all of you! I love bloggers!

MoDigli said...

How fascinating. I don't think there's such a thing as fate, Brooke. There is something about this happening while you are right there in Jersey. Don't you think?

800k-900k!!!! Dangity dang dang-dang! WOW!!!!

I'm po' too. (I loved that line of yours, BTW, and the momentary consideration of becoming Anna Nicole Smith in Florida! haha)

Here's the teacher in me thinking:
Can't you apply for a grant or something? Somebody out there might give you some free money for this! .. Right?!!!

But even if you don't end up getting it ~ which it's sounding that you won't ~ at least you will know that someone will renovate it, and hopefully love it. :))

MoDigli said...

I meant to say I DO think there is such a thing as fate!

Übermilf said...

You never know what some rich New Yorker will do. Even live in New Jersey and restore a beautiful house to its glory.

With Pottery Barn.

DCveR said...

There are two houses in the northern part of my country, up in the mountains.
Those houses are still there, we have been taking care everything from afar, maintenance work is done on a regular basis.
My father’s family house and my mother’s family house. Haven’t been there for too many years now.
Never even been there with my wife, that alone means the last ten years.
You know, reading your post made me feel stupid.
Hope you manage to save that old house.

TrueJerseyGirl said...

That is just terrible, really. My parents have been in the same house since I was 9 months old, and I just dread the day they sell it to move to Florida or into a condo or whatever. It would break my heart to see anyone else in that house, much less it fall into disrepair. I wish you luck with the lottery thing!!!

Anonymous said...

Girl you made me cry and I never weep on the day before I have to go back to my shit job. Now do you see what you've done. lol

Ghone said...

The house I lived in from ages 5 till 19 was up for sale a few years ago. My mom asked me if I like to join her to look around. I passed. Too many memories - too many 'firsts' in that house. My mom later said she was a little spooked by what she saw.
I now leave real close and do have the occasional peer through the windows - just for old times sake!
But it's good to move on and not live in the past. Remember the good times with a soft smile.
As I now do of my mom who has now sadly passed away.

Brookelina said...

Thanks ghone. I do remember those times with a smile. And I hope the house is bought by a nice family that restores it to its original condition.

Or that I win the lottery.