Friday, April 10, 2009

On Home

Up until recently, I lived in a house that we used to call the Colourful House at 637 East 11th Avenue. For the first months of this house, and for the last months of this house, my sister lived with me, although she left for some three years to finish her fine arts degree in Halifax. One thing she said after only three months of living in the house was that it was the first place that seemed like a real home that she had lived since we had both lived in the Neaves Road house in Pitt Meadows. This was our childhood home of 14 years. This feeling remained, and played a factor in her returning to the house.

During my three plus years at the Colourful House, this was something I really appreciated. One of my excuses for not travelling over the past few years was that I really appreciated having the house, and I didn't want to give it up. It was cheap, it was central, and it was home.

The Neaves Road house, however, has continued to be a sacred place for me. We grew up in the farm lands, in an area where the Dutch had turned a bog into fertile dairy fields. Ten gigantic hazelnut trees were there, as well as a plum tree, two giant cedars, and a jungle of blackberry and elderberry bushes in which we would build secret hideouts.

The last time I was at the Neaves Road house was a night that I couldn't sleep. I took a drive at four in the morning with my then girlfriend to watch the sun come up in the fog in the spring and smell the smells I used to smell when I was there. We saw a coyote. That same day, I drove all the way to Kits and severed my ties with Starbucks, which might have been one of the best breakups I'd ever experienced. The Siren had a hold on me for quite a while, but things had gone more sour than Breakfast Blend.

Where I'm going with all this is that I've been evaluating what makes a house a home, and what makes not having a house unimportant. I've always been tied to material things. I'm not materialistic, per se, but I get a little sentimental when I sell a car in which I had a lot of good memories. When I move, it's always particularly heavy, and no move was worse than the one from the Neaves Road house.

I got a text from my sister yesterday which stated that our ex-neighbour had sent her an email saying that someone levelled the house (which is a little sad) and the entire yard (which is totally fucking heartbreaking). That yard, and those trees remained beautiful and sacred.

Here are the cell phone pictures my mom showed me today of the house, gone.

This is a song called West End Road by Teen Idols. I believe Phillip Hill wrote it. It always made me think of that house, and it came out shortly after I left there.

Drove past the old house today
And couldn't realize
Why my new friends couldn't see
The home that I saw with my eyes

Then I remembered that I hadn't
Been there in so long
And the things I'd seen
And things I'd done
Were memories that had gone

They'd just laugh and call me
The old sentimental fool
I know they're right
So I'll try to hide the pain
Because it breaks my
Heart to hear them say

Tear down the house on West End Road
It's been condemned a year and a day
Its paint is chipped, the bricks are old
The city says it's just in the way

Tear down the house on West End Road
It once was home to all of my dreams
Back when we were so young and bold
Has it really been so long
Since we fell apart at the seams

(Seems) Like just the other day
I saw it the first time
It needed paint, it needed work
It was run-down, but was mine

You wouldn't know it if you
Went and looked at it today
But that house hold the most
Treasured part of my past, in a way


  1. I loved your yard too, I thought is was so cool how you guys lived in a place where playing in the yard and neighbourhood felt like you were on holiday or something. I think that is why we decided to bury Aurora's ashes there and plant a tree. Even though we didn't live there, I think we felt that your yard was sacred too. I'm sad for you guys and also sad that I didn't get a chance to see how much Aurora's tree had grown before it was erased.