When thinking over my life, I always separate it into three sections. These three sections are separated by time and mental/ emotional growth but also by where I lived. For the first 13 years of my life I lived in one house. From then until college, I lived in another house. And now, obviously, I live on my own here at the University of Missouri. What I am going to write about today though, is this place where it all started; I’m going to tell you about the place where I spent my childhood, the place that had the most impact on who I am today. To many, the place that I am writing about would seem like just a space. However, the fact that there is meaning to it, that to me it is more than just a space, is, in my opinion, what makes this a place.
Last summer I was living with my parents and one day decided to take a little stroll around town to see what had changed and what had stayed the same. Eventually I found myself taking a right off of North Elizabeth Ave. and turning into an old road past a broken mail box. I drove up this long driveway and parked my car at the top. There was nothing but a small parking lot that had been taken over by weeds. I opened my car door and the very second that I stepped out of my car, the first 13 years of my life came rushing back into my mind. This old parking lot what was my childhood home.
I walked over to where my bedroom used to be. My two brothers and I used to share this bedroom. It was just big enough to fit our bunk bed, a twin sized bed, a dresser, and our toy box. We had lots of great times in that room. I can remember the countless hours that Jonathon and I spent jumping from my top bunk over onto our little brother, Joseph’s twin sized bed. I can also remember the countless amount of fights that we all got into, all of which ended with my mom’s wooden spoon to our rears. I walked out of my room and across the hall into two of my sister’s room. I saw all of the Barbies and dolls laying on the floor as well as the ones hanging from the ceiling fan by Heather and Julie’s shoe laces; That was mine and Jonathan’s handy work. I walked back out of the room, took a left and walked down the hall; there was the laundry shoot right next to the pink bathroom. To the left was my older sister Megan’s room and to the right was Mom and Dad’s. Megan’s room never was that much fun so I just went right into my parents’ bedroom. There, I could see mom looking over at me and smiling as she folded laundry and myself in the bathroom next to my dad shaving with my Flintstone’s shaving kit as he was doing the real thing with an actual razor. All of the sudden I was immediately distracted with a smell from the kitchen. I ran out of my parents’ room and down the hall past mine, my brothers’ and my sisters’ bedrooms, past the family room and into the kitchen. I have two words to say about this wonderful aroma: cinnamon rolls. My mom was known all over St. Louis for these. She was always in there cooking and baking things for my five siblings and I. She had just pulled out a pan of her famous cinnamon rolls and set them on the cooling rack and then moved to the sink to wash her hands. She spent a lot of time standing at the sink and washing dishes. She loved doing this because there was a window above it that she could look out of to watch us kids and all of our friends play in the front yard. She always had a smile on her face; that is until one of us would do something stupid like take off our clothes and start to run around. Then it was back to the wooden spoon again. I began to laugh about these memories as I glanced over into the living room and then walked over to the dining room. My laughter left me as I remembered the family meeting we had there when I was about 11 years old. My mom was crying and all of us had a confused look on our faces. My dad began to tell us that my mom had this disease called Multiple Sclerosis. None of us knew what it meant at the time; we were too young to understand. All that we knew was that it wasn’t good and that things with mom were not going to be the same. I walked from the dining room into the family room; there was no television there. We never had a television. We never needed one. I saw my mom sitting on the couch next to my dad. She had a smile on her face. It was Christmas and for the first time in three weeks she wasn’t in bed with a severe migraine. We were all ripping apart presents and eating candy from our stockings. This was my childhood.
Now a lot of this probably does not make much sense to you. I didn’t expect it to. “What is he talking about? What house is he speaking of? I thought he was on a weeded over parking lot.” Let me explain. When I was born my dad was an administrator for a school that was owned by a church. Because he was technically on the church staff and because our family didn’t have a lot of money, the church told us that we could live in the parsonage as long as my dad was working at the school. When I was 13 years old my dad got offered a job as a professor. Because of this we had to move to a different house. The parsonage needed a lot of repairs and the church did not have the money to keep the house up so they bulldozed the house and paved a parking lot over it. The parking lot that I was stepping onto was my house.
It is interesting to me how much a weeded over parking lot could mean. To anyone else that would have driven up the driveway to that parking lot on that day, it was no more than a space to park their car, but to me it was so much more than that. When I got out of my car I knew that there was once a home there. I could walk around on the parking lot as if I was walking through my own house. To anyone else I probably looked like I was high or drunk, but to me it was a reunion of my childhood. This place meant something personal to me. I could still see, smell, feel, and hear all of the things that it meant to me when that parking was a house. I knew where everything was and it brought me to a place of emotional highs, lows, and plateaus. All of these reasons, the entire story that I just told, the entire experience that I had, all contribute to the reason why I define this as a place. 1325 N. Elizabeth Ave. is, and forever will be a space that has a place in my heart.