Home Rotting Home

December 1, 2011
Tender curiosity. Haunting nostalgia. A place I have never been, captivating my senses so intensely I felt overcome with a flood of emotions. Memories are made, in a shell of plywood and dry wall. Re-purposed and redesigned. Where do these memories go when the inhabitants die? When they decided to leave? They stay put, forever holding onto the beauty that once was so much more. A monument to commemorate a time of the life of strangers. Passed down and passed on. In the summer of 2011 I was lucky enough to stumble upon one of these living pieces of history. A quaint orange 1920’s house, built in the heart of central Phoenix, listed at an alarmingly low price of only $35 thousand. My mind could not help but to wander, and soon enough, I fell fast in love with this delightful residence, so, one steamy Saturday afternoon, my friend and I set out to experience it for ourselves. The one and only time I visited it still sits in my mind as fresh as it did the first time I laid eyes upon it.

Pulling up to the house I was immediately captivated by its intricate architectural beauty and its exterior delicately decaying in a fit forgotten wisdom. Pointed and perfect stood the peaks of the house. I was in love.

With a blinding sun looming over my tingling sense of discovery, I proceeded down the decaying narrow walkway. Standing in the middle of one of the oldest and most influential neighborhoods in Phoenix, I could not help but to feel immeasurably upset. A place so beautifully constructed had now fallen to the mercy of its minimum wage owners. Graffiti and grime covered our state’s pride and joy. Dejected and forgotten sat the remains of our great city. A setting so chaotic, booming with the sound of barking dogs, playing children, and city life, did not seem to welcome such a serene home, so serene it felt completely and utterly out of place. The brown, worn and crumbling brick lay scattered about the property, reminiscent of its previous times of glory. It even evoked a spark of pity, that a house, so loyal to its inhabitants, had slowly lost value and slipped out of concern. The house had seen better days, along with the city surrounding it. A melting roof, insightful and knowledgeable, stood sheltering the interior from a sweltering Phoenix sun. A house that was once ones only pride and joy, decaying in a bittersweet air of melancholy memory.

My mind wandered away from me as I sat analyzing the exterior. Assuming it was built in the mid 1900’s, I envisioned a new and shining car sitting patiently in the drive way. A mint green tie wrapped around the dapper neck of a new husband as he kissed his wife goodbye. The boys at work would be proud. Making his way down the driveway and off to the office, he imagined what his day would hold. Wendell and Eileen. Or maybe Kent and Constance. Everything they knew and loved, their pride and joy, their entire life, sitting vacant and rotting through the downfall of Phoenix. Maybe back in 1945, this house was a neighborhood heaven for bruised knees and stray cats. Maybe it was a shining beacon of familiarity after a stressful day at work. Hearts in 1957 may have been broken on the front porch, and new loves sparked in the backyard summer of 1981. Graduation parties, anniversaries, baby showers, trick or treating children of Halloweens passed, all just faint memories, replaced by new cars and expanding businesses. Now all that stood to prove of its powerful history was the graffiti infested and withering carcass of something that once was so much more. Like the anniversary gifts of an ex lover, it was a tangible token of the rotting past. This house had existed previously for almost one hundred years, and that is the most beautiful thing that could have happened to it. No amount of time spent uninhabited or the mindless vandalism of vagrants could deduct from such a powerful life.

There is loyalty in the ghetto.

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