1. That Old House
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That Old House

When I went away to college,
I left behind my bedroom,
My playroom,
My toy trains.
I didn't like coming home
To dad's ever growing mess.
When he passed on, the work began.
Every nice weekend for five years:
Order a dumpster; call the scouts; call the family...
We're going spielunking
At 39 Westal Vista.
Sorting through the hoard:
We outfitted
        a scout troop,
        an art studio,
        an orienteering course,
        a model plane class,
        two wood shops,
        three machine shops.
We delivered
        books to the used bookstore,
        clothes, furniture, you-name-it, to Goodwill,
        chemicals and fluroescent tubes to the hazmat depot.
We discarded
        everything else.
We lost track after thirteen dumpsters.
Halfway through the work
The house was broken into.
The thieves couldn't find
The firearms and the stashed cash
We would later dig out.
When we were finally done,
Our neighbor, a carpenter,
Bought it as-is,
And fixed it up real nice.
Mom and I got a tour.
I have memories,
Of a happy childhood,
But I'm done there.
It does not call to me.
Just down the street from highschool.
Four years of supper with grandma and grandpa
And then supper again at home.
Nirvana for a growing boy!
Then of to college
And grandma was gone.
Then grandpa got sick.
We put in a downstairs bathroom.
Anticipating his return.
Instead the flu at the rehab home
Turned to dehydration
And he was gone too.
Mom and dad moved in,
Escaping the mess
Of the house I grew up in.
Congestive heart failure
Took dad to the hospital
And to his exit.
Instead of a move up north
To be with me or her brother,
Mom stayed.
We made it work for years.
Couldn't have done it without Chris.
Although it's a hundred miles away
It's just expenses and risks.
And I have no use for it.
But it's where I said goodbye to mom.
It feels hard to let it go.
Chris and John did yeoman's work
To ready the house for sale.
In comes an offer, and off it goes.
Visiting as a pre-freshman,
I met Bob White, working the desk,
In his Fidel Castro greens
With his Fidel Castro beard
And Fidel Castro hat
Sucking weed from a bong.
"Want a hit?"
"Er... um... uh... no thanks."
As I attempted a paradigm shift
Without a clutch.
A temporary assignment there
During the week-long "Housing Rush",
Trying out different places
And then returning there
To the courtyard and a fire.
Senior House spoke to me.
This is home.
And so it was for four years
Of struggle with schoolwork
And self discovery.
Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll.
A virgin to the first two
And a novice to the third.
Following the house motto, "Sport Death",
Really just an exaggeration of
"Go for it," I drank of all three
And evolved.
From the straight, Catholic, Boy Scout
To the out proud gay man I am today.
When the four year limit
Of residency arrived,
I did NOT want to go.
I simply was not ready!
Through years of life changes
Senior House remained a touchstone.
Until The Administration
Who never understood what WE meant
By Sport Death,
Finally found justification
In a carefully misused Student Life Survey.
The kicked out the residents
And closed the house to undergraduates.
They killed a goose
That laid golden eggs.
No more children on the margins
Transformed through unconventional community.
I bought a house.
With a friend from Senior House.
I had money for a down payment
Which is a story in itself:
A company dad helped start
Went public.
He simply divided the winnings
Between himself, my mom, and me.
We made every investing mistake imaginable.
But I learned.
Eventually I pulled our portfoio
Out of the hole he'd piloted it into.
So I could afford a house!
My job wasn't a high payer.
The plan was,
I'd supply the down payment
And my housemate,
Working at a high paying startup
Would supply cashflow
And eventually pay it back.
Alas, we learn
Slow and steady really does
Win the race.
Nigh on twenty years, we lived there.
He got married, I kept looking.
Lots of other stories there.
Eventually the call
Of a house with more privacy
A forever home for myself
Drew me away.
I cried the day I left.
Also feeling like I abandoned him
To take care of our house by himself.
He managed.
I still think of that place
Not so much with fondness
As recollection
Of many challenges faced while I lived there.
I've attached myself
To my forever home
Now inhabited by me
And my husband.
Yet another story beginning.

12 August 2023 (unfinished)

by Bill Cattey