Saturday, November 14, 2009
You "can" go home again
(thanks to Hey Joe, who keeps harassing, oops, I mean encouraging me to write a new post)
This is a follow up to this post I wrote 3 years ago. In order to make sense of what I'm about to say, you should probably read it first.
Sometimes, when you least expect it...a wish comes true.
It has taken me over two months to sit down and write this. And, this is the first thing I have even been inspired to write about since my last post in March.
This past August, my brother and sister-in-law came for a visit from the east coast. My brother, who of course grew up here in L.A. with me, was on a mission to revisit every section of the city that had meaning to him. And since they were only going to be here for 3 days, we were racing against the clock.
I love L.A. (yes, me and Randy Newman) because there is no other city quite like it. There are so many diverse sections within this one city. Some beautiful and filled with opulence, while some are worn down by time and lack of care.
The first day, my mother and I met them at the airport and we were off and running. First stop, Culver City, where my dad owned a children's day camp up until he died. It was quickly replaced with an American Legion Hall back in 1967, and has stayed just that way ever since.
We continued on that first day, through Beverly Hills, Hollywood, and various parts of the "city". And at days end, my brother requested that the next day's journey be to our home in the valley. The home where my father died when I was 10. The home where absolutely everything about life would change for me.
Now, if you read my original post, you know that I have wanted to step back into that home since 1993. So when my brother announced that we'd be driving by there, I quickly gathered photos that would show us in front of the house...proof for the people living there now, that we had actually resided there.
Sunday came, and after fortifying with a nice big breakfast at Jerry's deli, off we went. We drove up to the house, parked and sat. Two cars were home in the driveway, which probably meant the people living there were as well.
We waited. What were the chances that someone would come out? And if so, what were the chances they'd welcome us in to their home?
Well, minutes went by and my sis-in-law says, "let's go knock on the door". I about fainted. How could we possibly knock on a strangers door and say "Hi, we used to live here, we are the original owners, can we come in?".
My sis-in-law was not going to give up. She suggested we go to the door, tell them who we are, and that we were going to be taking some pictures outside, and didn't want them to wonder what we were doing, should they look out the window.
And, we did just that...while my mother and brother waited in the car.
As we knocked on the door, I could feel my heart pounding and my brain flooding with memories. Thoughts swirled though my head...how would we convince these people that they should make a wish come true and let us walk through the house?
The door opened. There stood an older gentleman. We proceeded with our plan, telling who we were and how we would be taking pictures.
I came armed with my photo album and began showing him the proof.
He responded with this: "We are the 3rd owners of this home. I had heard that the first owners moved because the husband had died". My knees became weak, and in the voice of a 10 year old I blurted out: "That was my dad!!"
I quickly took a deep breath, and with all the courage I could muster, I asked if we could come in to see the house. The tears began to uncontrollably stream down my face, as I could feel the urgency to go in.
He. said. yes. of course.
This man seemed to understand the needs of the 10 year old little girl inside me...waiting to retouch what had long ago been lost.
We called to my mom and brother who were still waiting in the car, and in we went.
The same black slate entry floor. The same built in cabinet in the dining room.
The same wallpaper in the bathroom where my dad and I would look into the mirror to make funny faces together.
We made our way through the first floor.
But I knew I had one more stop to make on this journey through time...the upstairs, to my bedroom. My lavender room, where I knew everything was once whole and safe.
We climbed the stairs slowly, my heart once again beating quickly. And there it was, no longer lavender, but familiar and welcoming.
As the tears continued to pour down my face, the older gentleman went on to explain that they had been there since 1969. They raised a family of five in this house. They now had grandchildren.
We came back downstairs, where we would then meet his wife, who went on to tell us stories of neighbors who had moved away.
You could tell they were touched by our story and they knew they were participating in something important and healing.
As we thanked them and said our goodbyes, I felt complete somehow.
It was a day I won't soon forget.
It was the day my wish came true.