Thursday, July 28, 2016

Little House, Today

Several years ago, I wrote this lovely little post about the house I grew up in. I loved that house. And although once in a while I'll hop on Google Earth to see how it and my old neighborhood are doing, I hadn't seen the inside since 1982.

Until yesterday.

My childhood home is for sale.

This is not my childhood home, you guys.
This is actually the clubhouse in Grant Park,
South Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Isn't it gorgeous?
Don't ask me why I was looking at online real estate listings in Milwaukee on a Wednesday morning. There was a whole daisy chain of events that got me to typing in my former zip code on Zillow, starting with something that actually was more or less directly related to my job. OK, it sort of got out of hand from there. I blame the Internet for being so full of stuff I enjoy looking at. At which I enjoy looking. Whatever.

So there I was, looking at an overhead view of my old 'hood, and I pretty quickly spotted a listing on my old street. On the corner, in fact. Hey, I lived on the corner....could it be...? I clicked, and found myself looking at the address I called home from kindergarten to my sophomore year of high school.

It's a weird feeling to realize that your childhood home is for sale. For one thing, it forces you to think of all the people who have lived there since you lived there. For them, this is also "home;" we have this in common despite the fact that we are in every other way complete strangers.

Then there's the pang of knowing that, despite thinking of it as "your" home, it isn't. I haven't lived there since I was 14. I moved to another state, graduated from high school, graduated from college, got married, built a career, had a child, bought and sold two houses of my own, got divorced, and started over in that span of time. It's now a faraway part of a long personal history. And until I finally write that damn book and become world-famous, no one cares that it's the "childhood home of...." It's just a private residence that a lot of people have lived in, and having spent my formative years there gives me no special claim on it.

Having said that, I was freaking STOKED to see how the place looks now. Who doesn't want to get a peek inside the house they grew up in?

Always with the hope it doesn't look like this, of course.

Out of respect for the current and future owners, I'm not posting the address of the house, or a link to the Zillow listing, or any of the pictures from it. I just feel that would be creepy and wrong. As much as I'd love to share images of my youth with all of you, my words will have to suffice.

Deal with it.
First and foremost, my little house looks ADORABLE.

According to Milwaukee Central Appraisal District information, this house was built in 1943, along with the other homes on my street. They are all similarly small, modest homes on relatively small lots. And OMG, the family that were my next-door neighbors STILL own the house next to mine after all these years. That's amazing.

My house (I can't stop calling it that despite what I said above) used to be white with light green trim. Now it's white with dark red trim. There was a huge tree in the middle of the front yard when I was a kid. It's gone now. Also, the front and back yard are fenced, presumably to keep kids from cutting across, which happened constantly when I was a kid. Also, the lilac bush that used to separate our house from the aforementioned neighbors is gone. I loved the smell of lilacs when I was a kid. They don't grow in North Texas, you know.

Texas has crape myrtles, which are similar but not nearly as fragrant.

The listing includes a picture of the front porch, which is pretty much as I remember it. We spent a lot of time out there on summer evenings, as there wasn't (and apparently still isn't ) central air. Occasionally crazy neighborhood people would peek in and favor us with their crazy. This is where and how I learned that the world is full of different people, and our goal as humans shouldn't be to call the cops on anybody who doesn't share our values and world view.

Once I moved to the suburbs of Dallas, this lesson was sorely tested, but my upbringing prevailed, I'm proud to say.

Anyway, I was totally stoked to see pictures of the inside of my house.

When I lived there, the living room had dark green 70s carpeting, heavy dark-green draperies, and a whole wall of mirrors. Yeah.

According to the listing and photographs, this house had goddamn original hardwood floors in every room, which now have been exposed and refinished. Not so in my time. :(

This house has walls painted in modern trendy colors, highlighted by beautifully restored wood floors.

The doors and windows have been updated with modern, energy-efficient versions.

The swinging doors to the kitchen, and the dark wood shutters in the bedroom windows, are gone.

The gigantic oil furnace in the basement seems to be gone.

Yet I can still see my childhood home in every photo.

I see the front door, from which we collected the Milwaukee Journal every afternoon.

I see the three bedrooms...I occupied all three of them over nine years. First in the second bedroom, in bunk beds with my big sister; then in the master bedroom, which we swapped with our parents so that we could we could un-bunk our beds; and finally, the third bedroom, which became mine after my big brother joined the Navy. It was tiny - TINY - but it was my first bedroom by myself. And I loved it for the four months I had it.

My house had three bedrooms for five people, and one small bathroom. It still has three beds and one bath. The bathroom is nicely updated, but it's still the only one.

The fenced yard is now more nicely fenced. The outside parking slab is now covered to be a secure carport.

And most can still walk to my elementary school. To my library. To beautiful parks.

Because if you buy this house, you also buy a wonderful neighborhood in the southern part of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

You buy my modest, beautiful, awesomely updated home.

Good luck, home. And home owners.

I hope someone freaking awesome buys my house. <3 p="">


  1. There's something wonderful about letting go of things that were once "ours" in the hopes that others will enjoy them as much as we did.
    And I hope others do enjoy your childhood home. I hope the swinging doors to the kitchen are still there and that they have kids who'll get up to all sorts of hijinks in the graveyard.
    Or at least climb the trees.
    And maybe use incredibly flammable model paint in the basement.

  2. Awwww, I love this post! I'd love to get a look into my old home. Two trips ago, I did a drive by - my old neighborhood was never great but now it's really bad. When I mentioned to my dad that I'd gone he made me promise not to go by again. That's kind of sad.

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