And I’ll be sleeping on a daybed (???) in what used to be my dad’s office. This house has evolved and changed a lot since my parents purchased it in 1997, so the fact that I lost rights to my childhood room a while ago shouldn’t surprise (or disturb) you. When I return to California for Christmas next month, my mom will have already moved into her Santa Cruz beach home, which I visited a couple days ago. Hopefully the new property will foster countless fun memories and good times just as my childhood home did. In honor of the place I spent my formative years, I’ve decided to list one interesting thing that happened each year I resided at the house, which I don’t mind posting photos of now that we’re leaving.
1997: Though I hadn’t even reached the age of 10, I hated everything about Los Angeles, my birthplace. I disliked it from the moment I could observe things, and boy did I notice the flaws of So Cal. I loathed the traffic, felt the environment was toxic and superficial, felt unsafe pretty much every moment of each day, was disgusted by the graffiti painting every square inch of the overcrowded city, and wanted to hurl every time I looked up at the smoggy sky. I thought there were no redeeming qualities to poisonous LA, so I was extremely relieved when my mom and dad quit their jobs and bought a house up north.
They brought me to see the two-story three-bedroom before making an offer, and I fell in love with it right away. The high ceilings, white carpeting, staircase, and huge windows were a peaceful contrast to our haunted Glendale residence, which was dark, dreary, creepy, and yes, home to lots of malevolent forces and spirits. As much as I loved my social circle at Ribet Academy in LA, I was okay with having a clean slate in nor Cal. I’d just have to write Alyson, Monique, and Lillie tons of letters once I got settled into my new digs.
On my first day at Vine Hill Elementary School, my parents woke me up at 5:45 am. We got to school early to sign paperwork and I remember feeling extremely cold and surprised by the layers of ice on the parking lot bushes. Scotts Valley was less warm than LA, but greener and free of graffiti, so I understood the trade-off.
Once I arrived at my new classroom, the teacher told me I’d be sitting next to a young lady named Crystal Thanos, as she was the only student with a vacant chair beside her.
“She’s a nice girl, you’ll like her,” Ms. Hancock said.
Little did my instructor know, Crystal would become one of my best friends of all time. We actually just hung out tonight, with our other friends I met at Vine Hill, Lauren and Nikita. One in a million, our group is:
1998: I met Lauren at afterschool daycare.
The two of us may be total sass queens now, but we only became friends because, well, we had no friends at afterschool Rec. Nobody wanted to hang out with us, and while we butted heads at first, the two of us eventually decided to team up and battle the others as a pair. After all, we lived in the same neighborhood, so it was much easier to just get along than sustain a futile war.
Lauren has been there for me through thick and thin. When I was getting bullied constantly in junior high, she stood up to my harassers herself, even though she was a year younger than they were and ridiculed on a regular basis. When a guy rejected me at the beginning of junior year, Lauren punched him in the arm for bringing me to tears. There’s nothing she wouldn’t do for her friends, and this has been the case for almost fifteen years.
1999: I got a Furby!
So did Crystal.
2000: I started going to school dances with my friends.
The girls and I always got ready for dances at my house. Though we never left the disastrous events satisfied or happy, we had each other so things weren’t so bad after all, and we could always talk about the affair at the end of the night in my room. More often than not, Crystal gave me a hard time for not asking whatever boy I liked at the time to dance with me. Even then, I think I knew deep down that it was better to be pursued than chase trouble. From time to time, I still need a reminder that this is the ideal way to go. Luckily my roommate Jen can help me out with that one!
2001: I became a cheerleader…
And my friends and I used to do the routines and moves together in my neighborhood. One day, a girl on my cheer squad caught us tossing each other into the air and threatened to tattle on me, but as always, Lauren told her to piss off and stop being such a killjoy. End of story!
2002: This was the year we started torturing my neighbors. Lauren, Crystal, Nikita, and I did everything we could to ruin the life of Gabe, the grouchy 30-something across the street who once ran out of his house in his boxers to rage at us for laughing too much. We disliked him a great deal, so during one sleepover, we decided to be loud and obnoxious to get him to come outside and rip us a new one. For the first hour, we howled at the top of our lungs out the window. For the second, we blasted Avril Lavigne from my boombox and belted out our favorite “American Idol” cover songs. During the third hour, we ran outside and did cartwheels on his lawn, confused as to why we hadn’t roused him from his sleep yet. I’m not proud of this, but I’m pretty sure we urinated on his yard as well, because we were awful, awful kids with nothing better to do than harass grown men.
When midnight rolled around, we were exhausted and at a complete loss. What could we do to get a rise out of this guy? Did we have to ring his doorbell ten times and scurry away, throw dog excrement in his face, put another banana up his tailpipe? We weren’t sure. Just as we tried to rework our strategy, I heard voices outside. Peeking through my blinds, I saw a policeman heading in the direction of my house. I froze, knowing we’d gone too far and totally screwed ourselves over. Gabe hadn’t stormed outside to yell at us, he’d just called the cops, and I had no choice but to explain myself to one. As the doorbell rang, Lauren and Crystal cowered under my bed, throwing me under the bus because they were terrified. I drew my breath, recognizing that all the trouble had gone down at my residence and I was going to have to take full responsibility as such.
Upon answering the door, my dad ran up the stairs, scoffed at me, and retreated to his room. It would be another day before he’d speak to me, he was so livid and disgusted by my behavior. I sighed, jumping downstairs to meet my mom and barking dog.
“Laura, this policeman has been getting some noise complaints,” my mom began, restraining my whimpering Jack Russell Terrier. “Do you know anything about this?”
“Oh yeah. The girls and I were watching Joy Ride and got scared,” I lied, knowing the DVD was still in its Netflix case on the kitchen table.
“Really? That warranted hours worth of shouting?” the cop asked.
“Um, well, we also saw someone outside,” I continued, digging my own grave. “It was a guy smoking. I think it may have been Ross.”
“Ross?!” my mom said in disbelief.
“Who is Ross?” asked the cop.
“One of my classmates,” I said, failing to mention that Ross also hated me with a passion. Just then, I realized he’d hate me even more for throwing his name out during a police investigation, so I attempted to cover my tracks and brush him out of the picture.
“Actually, it wasn’t Ross,” I said. “It was another guy.”
“If there’s a man lurking around the neighborhood alone at night, I’m going to have to search every single street in the area,” the cop said.
“That won’t be necessary,” I said. “It was actually just a cat.”
“So where did the cigarette come about?”
“Um, I probably just imagined it after seeing Joy Ride,” I said, astounded by my trail of lies.
Eventually the cop realized we were just a bunch of immature teenagers looking to wreak havoc in the neighborhood, but the three of us never forgot about the series of absurd remarks I spewed in front of the authorities. That night, I learned I’m a terrible liar.
2003: I started covering my room in collages.
2004: I finished the collages and covered my entire room in magazine cutouts.
All the neighborhood children fought to the death “Hunger Games” style to check out my room once a week.
2005: I hosted a party at which some of my friends planned to drink for the first time ever. We were all going to eat pizza and down Mountain Dew until midnight, when they were going to head to the park to share a single bottle of beer. I couldn’t go, as I was on painkillers from a recent surgery and unwilling to start imbibing alcohol, but the girls took off after my mom went to sleep. Unfortunately for them, she got up in the middle of the night for a glass of water only to find four empty sleeping bags. When she asked where my friends had gone off to, I said they couldn’t sleep and had headed to the park. She found them there all right, along with their single bottle of alcohol, which she confiscated. It wasn’t a proud moment, so I decided then and there that I wouldn’t drink until at least college.
2006: After a nearly six month battle with cancer, my dad passed away in his bedroom. Not such a great thing to take place in our house, but shit happens, right?
2007: I returned from college and decided to rip down all my collages and paint my walls blue, with the help of Crystal and Nikita, of course:
2008: We got a new addition to the house: my mom’s boyfriend, who gave it some much needed TLC.
2009: I was ousted from my bedroom, as I, ya know, didn’t live there anymore.
2010: The dog kept me company the summer after I graduated college. I wanted to be anywhere but in my neighborhood, where I was plagued with questions on “what [I was] doing with [my] life.” I didn’t have an answer for that, so I spent many nights weeping next to my pup Roxy in my dad’s old office, praying I’d break away from my charmed California life for a glamorous east coast job soon enough.
2011: Mom started talking about finally moving and putting the house on the market. I was immensely relieved, as I believed she should have relocated years earlier.
2012: During a moment of fear, Roxy ran away from our house and into the mountains. She’d been so scared of the Fourth of July fireworks that she literally headed for the hills, and for a day or so, we thought she was a goner. Maybe this is a sign, I told my mom, that it’s time to put the house on the market once and for all and start over. First our cat Toonses died, then my dad, and now Roxy. I couldn’t handle the prospect of returning to the home without the dog, so I vowed never to go back again.
Of course, Roxy ended up being fine. We retrieved her from a shelter, but knew it was time to move on from the Scotts Valley home.
So, house, it’s been real. Thanks for the memories. May I create more of my own with my future family before long.