Wednesday, September 5, 2012

201 Grammery Place: Making a House a Home Part II


It’s been almost twenty years since I stepped foot in my grandmother’s house; since it was there to step foot in to. Decades ago, in the name of imminent domain, the city of Atlantic City and its Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA) “purchased” 201 Grammercy and the many old houses around it to “build houses” for future residents. The city gave my grandmother a fraction of her asking price which was a fraction of what the house was worth but with my mother out of the country and my sister and I building homes or preparing lots for future homes, there was no one but my grandmother to fight the city.

She lost.

For years, my grandmother was upset about selling the house. One day she seemed to have let go of the hurt and settled in to her home in Charleroi, PA: the home “Papa” built with his “own hands” back when Gran was a kid. Many years and many more renovations later, the house felt like her home.

They say in dreams houses represent our bodies.

Gran died six years ago. I dream of her often. In most of my dreams we are back at 201; sometimes I’m slipping through the grass or running down the back stairs. In really good dreams I don’t even remember she’s dead. Sometimes I do. Still neither of us mentions the absence of life—we don’t need to.

The other day my daughter said she doesn’t feel like she has a home any more. With all of the preparing to move to a new home, our home stopped feeling like home.

She’s right. Though I have to admit it started before that.

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