Sometime this summer, about a year after our dad had died and stopped paying the mortgage, Dante was evicted. The bank had foreclosed and reclaimed our childhood home last spring, and now they were finally putting it on the market.
A few weeks ago I saw photos of it online. It’s surreal and familiar at the same time. I haven’t been inside that house in nearly a decade, but so many of my bad dreams are still set there that, displayed with its natural horror movie lighting, it’s like seeing photos from my nightmares. All the coverings and Styrofoam insulation my mother kept over the windows and sliding glass door have been removed, but it still looks dark inside. Most of the walls are dark wood paneling like people put in their basements in the 1970s, and the floor of my bedroom was a white roll-out plastic of faux tiles. I had forgotten how absurd that looked. The only photo of my childhood bedroom is blurry. There are still stickers on the windows of Dante’s and my bedrooms notifying firefighters that children are inside.
My dad’s bedroom floor used to be white and blue roll-out faux tiles, I think, but now it’s a sort of brownish grey so I’m not sure. There are horizontal scratches along the length of his bedroom wall from 40 years of running into it and chipping away at the door frame with his wheelchair.
The front entry way has been stripped of its 45-year-old, peeling wallpaper. I’m not sure when the wallpaper was removed, but the walls are tan underneath and covered in white strips that I assume are either leftover wallpaper glue or spackle. There is a dark shape at the edge of the photo of the main bathroom that I think must be a giant hole in the shower wall. It’s where tiles ought to be. There was gold velveteen wallpaper in the bathroom when I lived there, some of which had turned green and hard from Dante scrubbing it with blue toothpaste before I was born. The walls are painted a violently bright blue now like my grandmother’s bathroom used to be. I’m not sure which looked worse.
The master bathroom still has its original 1974 blue and white wallpaper. There are brown blobs of water damage on the walls and ceiling and a mystery hole in the wall the size of a small pipe.
The kitchen and laundry room are still a dingy, dirty yellow with gingham wallpaper. The major appliances are all gone, I assume because they were no longer working and possibly molding from the inside out. Some of the cabinet doors in the kitchen are missing. I cannot fathom why.
The basement has been dried out and is the first thing in the house to look bright and professionally tended in a long time. It looks like the basement bathroom, where my dad had his roll-in shower, has been removed completely. The shower -- and I think there was a toilet – must’ve been in pretty bad shape to warrant removing them completely. I’ve never used that bathroom myself. No one but my dad had ever used it. That’s how bad it was.
The last time I was in that house, a lot of the light switches didn’t work, but you can’t tell that from pictures. My dad had described the electrical as “going bad,” as though it were the vegetables perpetually rotting in the refrigerator, or something else that can’t be fixed. I can only imagine it’s gotten worse from another decade of neglect. I wonder how much of the plumbing still works and how much of the electrical will have to be rewired. I’m suspicious of the holes in the bathroom walls. I wonder what the person buying the house plans to do with it.
Someone is buying the house. After a little over a month on the market, an offer is pending. I did not expect this to happen. First, I could’ve bought that house in cash and paid my mother and Dante to watch while I had it razed. I wanted to film them. I hoped they would cry. I wouldn’t actually do any of this because I'm neither that rich nor that crazy, but I did crunch enough numbers to know it was well within my financial means because that is the kind of person I am. I was entertaining the idea of touring the place one last time under the guise of being a potential buyer when I’m in town for my best friend’s wedding next month, though I probably wouldn’t have just because the last time I went in that house my nasal cavity was lined with black for two days from breathing the dust and mold. But now an offer is pending.
I can’t wait until the buyer information becomes public. I want to know who bought it and what they plan to do with it. I want to know what they paid. The listing says, “Some improvements may require special financing such as 203K or home improvement loan.” I think this is their way of saying you can’t afford to fix this house yourself. Part of me hopes the buyer is my mother and she’s offered to pay one million dollars. I think those crazy days are behind her though.