Creative Nonfiction, Family, Memoir, Photography

The House Born Around Us

That my address happened to end up in my crotch in this my first attempt at arty photography is sheer Universal genius.

I was not born here. The house was born around my family when we moved to this city when I was four—the best part of all that happened when my parents got divorced.

Right after the divorce, my sister, mother, and I lived with my great aunt and uncle for a while and wore Goodwill clothes. Somehow, in less than a year, my mother was able to afford this house. Maybe it was all the money we saved wearing those Goodwill clothes that had that smell—the other people’s houses smell that must have dishearten my mother as we were between houses and, I know, humiliated my older sister who was sure she was really born royal and this town was all too bottom of the barrel for her. The smell seemed exotic to me and had a whisper to it, something like the ghosts of all the children who ate and played and sweat in these clothes before me.

My family continues to eat, play, and sweat in this house thirty-seven years later. It is now filled with our own ghostly whispers and we are sure to haunt it until the Big One knocks it down. It has been good to us and if all it cost was wearing good will on our backs for a year, it would have been a bargain at twice the price.

-M.

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