September 18, 2008

"I Spent 20 Years Trying to Get Out of This Place..."

...First line of "Who Says You Can't Go Home?" by Jon Bon Jovi & Jennifer Nettles

All my life, every step I took towards my high school graduation and my eventual migration to college (all of 45 minutes away), my mom insisted I get the hell out of Crawford County.

"There's nothing here!" she'd say. "No jobs, no future, you'll end up broke and bored, and probably working at the hospital with me," she'd lament. "Go to college, get a degree, and get a good job somewhere else," is what got beaten into my head for the better part of 18 years.

You can only hear something so many times before you start to believe its veracity. So I hauled myself off to college for four years, taking breaks only over the summer to live at home and work part-time jobs.

Funny sidenote: over the course of three summers, I worked four "part-time" jobs. Average work week? Somewhere between 39 and 90 hours. "Part-time my ASS."

I got my degree after changing my major from psychology - which could have garnered me a decent career and job - to English...which garnered me nothing. Since graduation I've worked as a receptionist, and administrative assistant, a salad bar attendant and a cashier. Now I blog. Writing hasn't earned me much.

But I did manage to get out of Crawford County. I stopped just short of crossing the International Date Line and landed near San Francisco, California. I think I got as far away from Crawford County as I could without needing a visa. Hey, I figure if it's worth doing, I'm going to do it to the Nth degree. Getting a hair cut? I don't just shave off an inch or two, I go from Jekyll to Hyde.

But it's come to light in the last few years that my mom has willed the house, and the majority of its contents (save for a few items that belong to my older siblings because they were originally mom's first husband's mothers things), to me. I sort of assumed it would be simply because it was the house I grew up in, not them. They grew up in south Florida. It saddens me in ways I can't fully explain to have to discuss my mom's will with her. It never occurred to me that I'd have to talk about it before I turned 30.

That said, the prospect of inheriting the house I grew up in is kind of exciting. It's a turn-of-the-century house, which I guess makes it somewhere between Colonial and Victorian. It certainly looks more Colonial. It's your basic two-story house. It's seen, that we're sure of, three or four floods due to its proximity to the "crick," which is what locals there call it. Most would call it a "creek." So after the last flood in 2004, mom had lots of work done. She got new drywall in all of the downstairs rooms, new carpet and new floorboards, and a bunch of other stuff that completely escapes me because I've only heard about it; I haven't been home in five years.

I've recently turned into an HGTV nut. Rob and I watch "House Hunters" and "If These Walls Could Talk" all the time, we DVR them in mass quantity. Mom's house, as old as it is, just has to have some secrets! The whole house used to be a duplex. My grandfather bought it 1946 and turned it into one house. He also dug the basement. The archways that separate the living room from the front room and the dining room used to have pocket doors. Mom claims her dad took them out when he plastered in the archways, but I don't see the reasoning behind that. Why not just tuck them into the walls? The back porch used to be a fruit cellar. There's a coal chute on the side of the house than dumped into the basement, which used to house a coal furnace. A pot-bellied stove used to sit in the living room. And, for those who know the layout: what's now the entrance to the cellar used to be the second kitchen. The wall that the freezer sat against wasn't there, neither were the steps down to the cellar, and that floor continued to the edge of the cellarway shelf. Also, the downstairs bathroom isn't original, my grandfather built that, too.

Home ownership is exciting. We know damn well we'll never buy a house out here. It's too damn expensive and quite honestly, we don't want permanence out here. We don't fit in out here and we never will. Our politics don't jive, our lifestyles don't jive, and nothing's ever felt like "home."

I used to say I never wanted to go back to Pennsylvania, let alone to Crawford County. I don't know that I do now, but I know it's in my future so I've been thinking about it more and more lately. I have very conflicted feelings about it, to be honest. I get a bit panicky thinking about the fact that a trip to the "local" supermarket requires 20 minutes driving in each direction as well as a list of other things to do while I'm in Meadville because I don't want to have to drive back there all over again later in the day. Shopping takes planning. Out here, I grab my keys and debit card and walk half a block.

Plus, my yesterdays are back there. I've changed a lot since I left and I'm not sure I'd fit in there anymore. I know I'd be more comfortable but I'm worried about our reception because I'm paranoid like that and have serious self-esteem issues.

Ugh. I think too much. I wish I had a picture to share with everyone, but all my pictures are in some corner of some room in a dusty old box in what used to be my room. You can go home again, right?


Minxy Mimi said...

The house sounds awesome! I love older homes and I watch those same shows on HGTV! You are in the bay area, they are very liberal towns there mainly. Come to the valley, you will find more conservative leanings. Like you, I feel like I don't fit in here... but my home town is too expensive to go back too, even in these times.

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