As you can see, I've procrastinated writing this for a while because I didn't want to look through 15 gigabytes of pictures for a photo of my childhood home, and I still don't, but I need to just finish the dang post and get it out of the way before it's ancient history.
Way back in January, my friend Natalie was so kind as to send me this picture of the house at 658 Converse Road Fort Jackson NY 12965. The house where I lived from 1998 to 2011. I must admit that in my selfishness, my first reaction whenever I think of it is annoyance that the current owners burned it down. My parents managed to live there for eighteen years without burning it down, even as we used an honest-to-goodness woodstove with real fire to heat it every winter. Stacking wood in the trailer and then stacking wood in the woodshed and then stacking wood outside the woodshed and then bringing wood inside and stacking it by the woodstove was a big part of my childhood.
In the woodshed, by the way, the people who lived there before us had written their names on the walls. One day they showed up and introduced themselves.
The house had stood since sometime in the late nineteenth century without burning down - the stone steps were labeled "1895", but we had reason to believe parts of it were older. It wasn't all built at once, as the uneven floors and mismatched doors attested. On the opposite side from that pictured here was the most recent addition, if memory serves me, built on actual stilts as it jutted out over the hill that sloped down to the brook in our backyard, adjacent to a pasture where we grew fruit trees and the woods where my dad cut firewood and hunted deer. Sometimes the brook flooded over its banks. One Valentine's Day I came home from school to find that a car had gone bridge and landed upside down in it, so that was exciting.
My bedroom, my sisters' bedroom, and my mother's sewing room slash guest room where I slept when I visited were all on the top floor which, as you can see in the first picture, no longer exists. That second tree from the right - we planted it to replace this massive old dead one that was in danger of falling on the house. I remember when it was so small my dad tied a ribbon around it so he wouldn't run it over with the lawnmower. I suppose it will still be there long after I'm gone, if it doesn't burn down at some point. You can't tell from the picture that the front yard is kind of concave and once in a while it got enough rain to turn into a pond that we could traverse in canoes built by my father. Did I mention that we never had to water the grass? It's not normal to have to water grass. I think it's ridiculous that Utahns insist on having grass even though they choose to live in a desert. They have to water it constantly to keep it alive and then they just have to mow it anyway. Ridiculous.
There's the aforementioned tree and stump again in the foreground.
At least the barn and the sheep-shed-turned-chicken-coop didn't burn down, I heard.
You can see that even in the picture above our garden was flooded. The pasture and trees stretching off into the distance were all ours, or technically all my parents', but I tromped through them as I saw fit. Again, I don't feel like continuing my search for a picture of the actual house. We weren't in the habit of photographing the house for no particular reason. The last time I visited, in August 2015 (briefly mentioned in this awful old post), I felt an intense feeling of nostalgia like never before, such love for this building that protected and nurtured me through my formative years, as if somehow I knew I would never see it again. I didn't know that my parents would move to Indiana soon afterward - a smaller house, a much smaller property, still nice and peaceful, but never my home. Before they left, they and my sisters added their names to the woodshed wall, and mine too. I can't tell from the picture if any of them might have survived.
In the back of my mind I legitimately assumed that someday when I became rich, because I do legitimately assume I'll become rich, I would go to New York and buy my home back. The economy in that area is crap and there are virtually no real adult jobs available, but I would visit once a year or something. Not all summer, because the humidity and the mosquitoes are torture, but I'd just show up periodically and wax nostalgic and feel the love. Its new owners handily disposed of that plan.
And then I realize, oh yeah, they lost their home too, boo hoo. I'm not a very nice person.
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About the Author
C. Randall Nicholson is a white cisgender male and a Latter-day Saint, so you can hate him without guilt, but he's also autistic, so you can't. Unless you're an anti-vaxxer, in which case the feeling is mutual. This blog is where he periodically rants about life, the universe, and/or everything.