Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Nostalgia runs rampant on the interweb.

It has been brought to my attention that my boyhood home is for sale. This is the home, in the 38117 zip code of Memphis, where I lived my seventh through 14th years of life. From that point it was less than a mile to school at St. Louis Elementary, where I spent the second through eighth grades. There was a magnolia tree in the front yard that probably still has my initials carved somewhere near the top, a dogwood tree, a gravel driveway and a rope swing in the massive Oak in the back. I had my own room, a bathroom across the hall, two sisters in the room next door, and my father eventually enclosed the screen porch in the back to make an additional room with a brick floor. The girl across the street was my age and who I spent most of my time with, running and playing and laughing, until sometime in the seventh or eighth grade when she became a woman and stopped speaking to me altogether. I had friends and family close by and what felt like all the time in the world. I was allowed to run and bike and travel as far as my imagination could take me.

I have mostly happy memories there. And this is why the most difficult part of the real estate listing is in the description of the house, which reads: Tear down house for lot. Tear down house for lot. It might as well say, destroy childhood memory for profit. Every so often, if I find myself in East Memphis as I did just last Saturday while shopping at the Home Depot, I will drive by my old house, visit my childhood. I find it somewhat comforting to see the house and the yard and to know that part of my past is still in tact even if the house has undergone changes making it look like only a notion of the structure I once lived in. It was still there and I could drive my kids past it and say, "Look, that's where I come from."

But not for long. Not unless I can come up with the $214,700 it's going to take to buy it and preserve it, much like Graceland, as a shrine to me and to the era of 1977 - 1984.


katherine said...

I just threw up in my mouth a little. And I don't know if it is because of your ode to yourself, because they call it a tear down house, because I can't see the dogwood (where is the dogwood??), because of the memories that I have in those rooms and those front and back yards, or because I can't believe what you can get a 3 bedroom house for in that city. (But I think the word 'shrine' is what caused it.)

Stacey Greenberg said...

dang, that sucks.

Stephanie said...

The house I grew up in is for sale right now, too. I've been keeping my eye on it to see if there might be an open house- I want to go back inside!

Warren said...

$215,000 seems a lot for a lot with a tear-down house. When is the open house? Maybe the current homeowner knows it is the RJA 1977-84 shrine... Or maybe East Memphis has become the new uptown has become the new midtown.
We often go out of our way to drive by and reminisce about the house we sold last year--that's pretty pathetic.

Elizabeth Alley said...

i love that house and often have dreams about it.