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Back in 1972, when Iwas just two, Mom and Dad bought our family home, a duplex in Fairfax, VA. Their very first home! It was a $25,000 purchase and a HUGE deal. Grandpa (Mom's Dad) had to help them with the down payment, and every so often we were reminded of that momumentous gesture as Grandpa passed away when we were very young.
That concrete duplex, built in the 1950's, is where I grew up. As a very young child I had no idea that a duplex was not the most desirable home in the world. It was home. The backyard was where I got to splash around in my baby pool, blow bubbles with my cousin, play ball with my brother and his friends, or play on the swing set. I could sit on the swing for hours and make up songs. Why not? I was outnumbered by boys in the neighborhood, so some solitary girl time was not a bad thing.
As I got older, the duplex lost it's luster and became a "lack of status" symbol. Middle school high school I was tormented by the fact that some of friends, who lived in "fancy" single family homes, didn't remain my friends. Of course, that never stopped the boys in the neighborhood from congregating around our home and hanging out with my brother and I. We weren't the coolest home in Fairfax, but we were certainly the hot spot on Maple Street. I think Mom and Dad took pride in being a sort of stand in Mom and Dad to those kids we grew up with. To the day Mom moved out of that house, those kids, adults in their mid to late thirties, still stopped by to say hi. They also stopped to pay their respects to my Dad when he was dying of cancer when I was in my middle twenties.
When I remember that duplex on Maple Street I remember everyone's normal routine. Mom on the phone, or fixing a meal in the kitchen. (We had a repeating schedule of meals that got to be really old...but that I would sooo appreciate today.) Dad paying bills after a hard day's work, or taking a weekend nap in his recliner. My brother George with his guitar, riffing for hours in the rec room... an addition my folks put on when we were outgrowing the home in middle school. I remember having to jockey two adults and two teenagers morning schedules around one full bathroom. How in the world did we do that? More to the point? How in the world did I ever get up at 5:30am to shower? I am not a morning person.
When I look back to growing up on Maple Street, I also remember the embarassment we all face when growing up. Dad loved Johnny Cash. He would put on albums, grab a cowboy hat and guitar and serenade the family. Unfortunately, he also did this when a girlfriend of mine from high school, Nichole, was spending the night one weekend.
I remember the live Christmas tree that swelled so much that it fell over in the middle of the night and ruined a rug. From that moment on we anchored our live trees to the walls with fishing line.
I remember the holidays we spent there. The tears that were shed, and laughter shared, when family descended for my Dad's funeral. I remember the Superman posters on my brother's wall, and the way he walked around our yard with a baby blanket pinned to his shoulders as a toddler. I also remember, vividly, when he cried and cried on our front steps for seemingly no reason when we were saying goodbye to a family member who had visited. There he stood with that Pringles can in hand and just balled. Luckily someone snapped a photo.
I would have a hard time selling that little duplex to a home buyer today. Heck, my associate was near ripping his hair out when it was time to dynamite my Mom out of the house and into more age appropriate, single floor living. He earned his commission selling it! Saying goodbye to that home was hard for Mom, but not me. I realized something then, just as I realize it now, typing this blog post. Home is not a place, it's what's in your heart and mind. It's about the people and events that shape your life. And that is made so much more evident by the fact that I have barely have a picture of the house itself, but many of those "home" memories.
Chris Ann Cleland, Associate Broker- Licensed in Virginia, GRI, SFR, Northern Virginia Short Sale Specialist. Affiliated with Long & Foster, 7526 Limestone Drive, Gainesville, VA 20155. To contact Chris Ann, call 703-402-0037 or email chrisann@LNF.com. Or you can visit her website: www.nvarealestate.net.
Header photos taken by Chris Ann Cleland.
The opinions expressed in this post are those of Chris Ann Cleland, not those of Long & Foster REALTORS®.
Disclaimer: ActiveRain Corp. does not necessarily endorse the real estate agents, loan officers and brokers listed on this site. These real estate profiles, blogs and blog entries are provided here as a courtesy to our visitors to help them make an informed decision when buying or selling a house. ActiveRain Corp. takes no responsibility for the content in these profiles, that are written by the members of this community.