My House

The bank finally foreclosed on my house last month, and I couldn’t be happier. Honest. I moved out almost two years ago when I realized my safety was more important than home ownership. I had a frank discussion with a lawyer, who had a frank discussion with my mortgage company, and, to make a long story short, foreclosure was my only practical option. Since I was pretty quick about contacting the bank and trying to turn in the house, I thought it would come to pass rather quickly. Nuh-uh. I moved out in July, 2008. They finally foreclosed last month.

I miss the house, with its wood floors and Shag-meets-Doris Day mural in the dining room. I miss the curved alcoves and the big yard and my great wood front porch. I miss the big kitchen and squat doorknobs and fireplace that never worked. I miss the 1925 architecture and big overhang and old-fashioned windows.

While I understand and accept that none of that is worth my life or safety, and while I am OK with saying “the bank took my house” because they did, and I wanted them to- actually, at one point, I begged them to, I remember how excited I was when I first found the place. I’d been looking and looking and looking and nothing was quite right, although much was affordable. But when I persuaded my Realtor to show me this little bungalow, I fell in love. Underneath brown shag carpet were wood floors in decent shape. The kitchen was big enough for a table, although it had a separate dining room as well. The yard would give Mad Dog plenty of grazing room.

I remember, too, a handful of neighbors who welcomed me despite my skin color. Nikki and I made conversation about live in general; Gail showed me how to make macaroni and cheese from scratch. The family down the street let me know I was always welcome at their cookouts.

It’s hard sometimes to remember that after all that came the nastiness and thefts and changes in my world view. Sometimes I get carried away on blankets of memories. But then I remember, in weird snaps and glances, how I felt living there. I was never safe, never felt relaxed, never able to let go.

When people who saw me then see me now, they remark on how different I look. “Happy” is the word most commonly thrown about, but I think I know what they mean. I look like someone who isn’t looking over her shoulder all the time. I look like someone who can doesn’t have to religiously attend neighborhood watch meetings to create the illusion of safe. I get that.

But every now and then I’ll talk to a friend who is still in a “bad” neighborhood. I have one in particular I spoke with last night; he’s raising a family in such a neighborhood, albeit in another state. And I feel like a wimp, a privileged white chick who couldn’t deal with reality. I didn’t even have kids and I fled; he has young girls and he stays.

In my head, I know I did the right thing. In my heart, I am happier and my life is better. But also in my heart are those memories that I tuck away and rarely let out- my first Thanksgiving in the hood, with Gail’s macaroni and cheese. The weekly smokers. The sense of community. The smells on the 4th of July. The dealers down the street who helped me find Mad Dog when she wandered too far. When I let this things too close to the surface, I miss my home. Not my house, my home.

Look at me; I am living the dream. I write for a living, and I live on the beach. I occasionally work on boats, and I am surrounded by people who love me. Not owning a house does not matter.

But, wow, do I miss that macaroni and cheese.

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I write. I take pictures. I love my dog. I love Florida. My 2016 book, 'Backroads of Paradise' did really well for the publisher and now I feel a ridiculous amount of pressure to finish the second book.