We wanted to take a look around the old neighborhood, so Sean drove us to Aurora on Monday. After he parked out front of Lansing Middle School, we walked up and down the block, amazed at how little it had changed. It looked exactly the way it had back in the 90s, which was exactly the same way it looked in the 60s. Very comforting. Then we walked two blocks over and one block up to the cul de sac on Moline where we used to live and got our minds blown.

The old house did not look so hot, even from a distance. The guy we sold it to was a handyman with all kinds of plans to fix it up and he’d obviously done some of that, but in the time since he sold it, the next owner had let it go downhill fast. Water melting from the snow on the roof was dribbling from the corners of the gutters where the downspouts were supposed to be, but weren’t any more. The trim around the edge of the roof was falling off, rotten or the paint was peeling – all three, in some places. The roof itself hadn’t been replaced, and it was old when we bought the house twelve years ago, so it was looking pretty gnarly. I almost didn’t want to get any closer than the sidewalk but, like a train wreck, I felt compelled to take a good, long look.

I tried to peek in the windows but couldn’t really seen anything no matter how flat I plastered my big schnozz against the glass. There were some cutsie-pie white shutters in the living room window, blocking a clear view. The bedroom windows were too high, even for me, and nobody volunteered to give me a boost, so we moved around to the side where we found the gate into the back yard. It was open and, while we were wondering how much trouble we could get into if we went poking around back there, the neighbor pulled up in the driveway.

It turned out she was the daughter of the older couple who used to live there back when we were still living in the neighborhood. She gave us the short version of the house’s history since we’d left and said that it’s been on the market for quite a while. The agent was only asking $119,000 for it – same amount we paid for it back in 1997.

From the back yard we could see into quite a few windows. The kitchen was a godawful mess. Someone had put down gray linoleum floor tiles and over the years the corners had turned up. It looked like the floor was covered in a caked-on layer of gray muck that cracked into pieces under a blazing desert sun. The walls were patched in places but the patches weren’t painted, leaving white squares and blotches of raw spackle everywhere. And the bastards yanked out the intercom system! The kitchen used to be home to a genuine 1960s-era Nutone intercom base station that still worked when we lived there. Nothing left but a spackle square now. It had a radio built into it and I used it to pipe music from Boulder radio station KBCO to every room in the house while we were painting. Big hit that summer: “The Old Apartment” by Barenaked Ladies.

The view from the dining room was even more heartbreaking. The finish on the hardwood floors was worn completely away and the wood had gone gray. More spackle on the walls. Trim broken. Fixing up the place would take a ton of money. The kitchen alone would probably cost twenty thousand, or whatever amount you would need to completely gut it and start over. Too bad. It was such a nice house.

We got away from there and back toward town. I wanted to say hi to the T. Rex skeleton in the lobby of the Natural History Museum. The first time we went there, I put Sean up on my shoulders to get a good look at the T. Rex. He was so ga-ga for dinosaurs at that age, I knew he was totally geeking out about it. “I’ll bet you could touch him,” I suggested, so he did, only he wasn’t satisfied with only touching. He grabbed, and that skeleton isn’t as solid as it looks. The steel frame it’s mounted on is flexible, so the whole thing swayed back and forth when Sean let go, and I thought, Oh, Holy Shit! We broke the T. Rex! But we didn’t, it just shook for a while, then stopped.

The T. Rex is still there. I didn’t put Sean up on my shoulders to touch it this time.

2 thoughts on “memreeeeez

    1. …plus or minus two years. That’s a fudge-factor of only, what, eighteen percent? Almost insignificant, especially considering the best I got in math was a C.


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