I had a friend in high school who lived right across the street. The first time I ever met him, it was late at night and I saw a kid hanging out his bedroom window smoking. We met awhile later and became the best of friends (--and don't worry, his smoking didn't rub off on me. In fact, I don't think it rubbed off on him much either).
Anyway, his family and my family were friends throughout all my teen years in Wyoming. We watched their house burn down while they were on vacation and had to call and tell them about it.
My friend must be visiting Cody because a few days ago on Facebook he posted a picture of the house I grew up in.
And here it is in all its glory:
My Facebook response went like this:
"Oh my gosh. Was it always that ghetto?"
It made me think about how our perception changes as we grow and start to see things through adult eyes.
I remember having friends who had really big and neat houses, but I don't remember ever being embarrassed of my own. I remember that our house cost my parents $45,000 to buy and it sat on an acre of land. I remember someone telling me their parents bought a house for $100,000 and I imagined it must be a mansion with marble columns on either side of the grand staircase.
I remember that the 8x8 laundry room in our house also served as a bedroom (for two people). It had no closet or dressers (I am just now wondering for the first time where all the clothes were). And we had an awesome game of using the string that hung from the lightbulb to swing from the top bunk to the top of the dryer.
I remember that the house was ALWAYS freezing. I remember my sister and I almost burning down the house once by starting a fire in the wood stove and leaving a full box of matches on top of the stove.
I remember the paint peeling on the front fence (which isn't there any more), and I remember EVERYONE drove into the little ditch when they pulled into our driveway. I remember the house was gray until my colorblind dad painted it the current color--PINK, if you ask me--but tan to him.
I remember my dad building the big metal shop in the back by hand and watching him walk across the super high trusses carrying two by fours. I remember the big addition he put on the back of the house over a span of eight years so that they could do it without debt.
I remember the summer my parents moved to Washington and I stayed in the house by myself at the age of 17. Man did I think I knew everything.
Did I think my life was ghetto back then?
Of course not.
Was it though?
I'm not sure.
Today I live on a nice Suburbia-ish street where each home is well maintained and under ten years old. We have sidewalks and vinyl siding and vaulted ceilings, and I still look at those nicer houses--the ones my friends live in or that I visit from time to time--and I feel envy. I feel like I don't have anything.
But I have so much.
Whether I came from Ghettoville or it's just turned to Ghettoville since we've been gone, who knows. Either way, I know I had a great childhood in that house. My parents worked really hard and sacrificed for us all the time. I have so many fond memories of growing up on that street, and I hope that's what happens to my kids too.
I hope they don't notice that the Suburban is getting close to its last leg. I hope they forgive me that sometimes their gifts are second hand, and that almost all of their clothes are hand-me-downs. I hope they are patient as we go through these lean college years and then the starting-a-new-career-at-close-to-40 years.
I may have been ghetto, who knows. We seem to have turned out all right.
Do you think your view of your childhood has changed now that you're an adult?