I long for my innocence three weeks ago when my cherry was intact, before I felt used and ashamed, and a little bloody.
It’s been a frenzied scramble to secure an impossibly large loan with last minute’s notice, and I continue to hang my hope on two mortgage lenders, the last ones standing, who assure me they’ll find the right “product” for me. In the meantime, I’ve searched for a new home, one that could house me and my memories, but there is nothing in Venice that is remotely livable in my price range. Calm down, Terry. Just look a little inland. There’ll be something.
Yeah, but it won’t be our home, I argue with myself. I troll the MLS site with more fervor than any porn site I’ve ever visited, and I finally settled on the West Adams Historic district. It’s a neighborhood that’s “in transition” and I’ll be a “pioneer.” Spitting distance from downtown LA and USC, it’s also really close to the intersection where a hapless truck driver, Reginald Denny, got the shit kicked out of him during the ’92 riots.
Settled in the late 19th Century, the homes are large, but have fallen into disrepair from years of neglect and crime. The neighborhood is largely Latino and black families living in large, rambling Craftsmen homes, many parceled into apartments. Signs in Spanish dominate the neighboring small shops and restaurants. Most of the houses have bars on their windows and doors.
When it looked like my hope for keeping our Venice home was sifting through my fingers no matter how hard I tried to close my fist, one of the homes I inspected was a two-story, four-bedroom house built in 1903. A skittish woman in her sixties has lived there for the past eighteen years, and she said there’s never been one instance of trouble. I believe her. She whispered that five nuns lived there before she bought it, so it’s been properly exorcised.
“I have home movies of the house from 1929,” she said. I nodded, noting how exciting it would be to see those films.
The house has a grand staircase in the foyer, pocket doors that lead to a large living room, coffered ceilings, a very formal dining room dominated by a spectacular built-in china cabinet accented with leaded glass, a sun porch off the living room, and those four rooms alone are larger than our front little bungalow in Venice. Off the dining room lies a butler’s pantry, which leads to a kitchen that’s in sad shape, its original tiles ripped from the walls to leave bare mortar, and the refrigerator that blocks a mysterious door. There’s a service staircase that leads from the kitchen to the upstairs bedrooms.
On the second floor, things really start to unravel. In three of the bedrooms, old cat pee-stained carpet covers the original fir flooring. The fourth bedroom has no carpet, but someone at some point painted the floor black. The master bedroom has a fireplace with an ornate mantle, and a sitting room off to the left before reaching a huge closet with built-in drawers and cabinets. The bathroom, the only one in the entire house, has a permanently stained tub, although it does have a bright little sun porch on the other side of it.
The house has a pitch roof, and the attic is ten-feet high running across the expanse of the entire floor plan, ripe for refinishing. In 1905, the owner built a connected servant’s quarters, and now it houses a USC med student that pays $850.00 in rent. The unit also has coffered ceilings, a fireplace, and its kitchen is in much better shape than the one in the main house.
For the third time, I visited the house yesterday and saw its possibilities. I walked through the grand rooms and imagined how much Billy would’ve loved the adventure this house is certain to deliver. I tried to place our limited and small-scaled furniture, and knew that I’d be scouring flea markets for large armoires and ten-foot tall bookcases and maybe a fainting couch. I thought that buying this house would instantly give me a hobby; one I may grow to love or one that would engulf me given that I can barely hang a picture without some sort of mishap.
If I’m forced to leave our home in Venice, I know that I’ll certainly have enough room for all of our stuff, all of Billy’s projects, both finished and those projects that will always wait to be finished. It’s tough, though, because everywhere I look in our home in Venice, I can see Billy, standing right there in that spot, whatever spot it is, laughing or hollering or crying or dancing or just being silly Billy.
Those memories are tactile and alive right now, and if I move into this big old house, they’ll simply be memories.