Originally posted July 20, 2009.
By Ernie McCray
(An Old Man Just Sharing Good Memories Sparked by a Picture)
The house I live in was built in 1911 of some pretty sturdy wood; it had to be with twin girls traveling up and down its stairs in various teenage moods and posing like Tyra Banks in a photo shoot on its roof; it had to be with a boy, like a descendant of the Eveready Energizer Bunny, bouncing off its walls and floors and ceilings like a racquetball until we shipped him off to Long Beach State with a great big “Whew!”; it had to be with a mom and dad pacing back and forth on its carpets wondering aloud: “Whose Idea was it to have kids?”
All joking aside this old house, with so many faded peace flags and political messages of every stripe having adorned it, has flowed with love over the years. And, shhhh, don’t tell the kids, but although we’ve had the pad all to ourselves for a while now, it feels more like home when they’re all here hanging out, with their shoes off, slouching on the couch or looking through the family picture albums for the quadrillionth time or sitting with us toasting a little eggnog and brandy and opening presents at Christmas time or watching the Emmys or the Oscars or any show that has “Award” at the end or meeting us before we trek off to a Padres game or a movie or a play or a concert of some kind.
And now our son is back home again, economizing while he pursues a masters in social work at San Diego State, causing the house to wonder when he started unloading: “Dang, where’s he going to put all that stuff?
But this old house is up to it. For 26 years it has kept us safe when the earthquakes shook its foundation and our bodies and souls. It’s kept us cool on the hottest summer days and now it keeps us warm at wintertime after years of our sitting around dressed like Eskimos (very long story as far as stories go).
When we saw this old house and it saw us it was truly “love at first sight.” It needed us, as its owners were done with each other and weren’t treating it right. We needed it as we had just been kicked out (another very long story) of a wonderful old New York City like penthouse apartment where we occupied the third and fourth floors with a view of canyons and trees and walkways and downtown San Diego. That was some place – filled with fascinating people: a fashion designer with a son named Moses Ocean Gold; a photographer (mi esposa) with whom I’m growing old; actors, including myself, and Whoopi, before she was Whoopi, and her baby daughter, Alex, and Tavis, her actor beau; an incredible mime who visited all the time, in white face some of those times.
So when we left that magnificent place we were in need of something truly special and this old house has been just that, in spades, particularly when it comes to my personal history. I’ve lived in it 17 years longer than I lived in the house I grew up in and I’ve lived in it with Nancy, my wife, four years longer than I’ve lived with any other person. And bringing up kids with her within its walls represents the best years of my life.
Looking back in time to scenes in this old house I can see Nancy and me, bent over with laughter, watching the incredibly inventive and expressive stories the girls used to create on our video camera with Lina, their good friend. I can see us kicking back smiling proudly, listening to our children as they work out a tap routine or as they play the piano or the clarinet or the flute or the French Horn. Sounds of music can be heard in this old house at almost anytime.
Oh, this old house has been the backbone of my life, giving me a place to be when I was flying high, doing it “on the good foot” to the rhythm and beat of “By and by, when the morning comes,” when I was simply trying to be the best human being I could be.
I will forever love this old house for it is the birthplace of some of my most precious memories. There couldn’t have been a better place on earth for me.