Sunday, December 2, 2007

1230 S. Cadillac

That's the address of my grandmother's house. My Bubbe. It's the house that four kids in the fifties and sixties grew up in. It's the house my grandfather bought for $24,000 and is now worth, depending on who you ask, over a million. It's the house where my Mom unknowingly said goodbye to her father for the last time, as she slammed the door behind her in a teenage snit. It's the house my Mom came home to a few years after her divorce, me in tow. It's the house where every Thanksgiving, every Passover, every Rosh Hasshanah was celebrated with much chaos and even more food, by my eclectic, loving, crazy collection of aunts and uncles and cousins. It's where my Aunt laid out in the backyard every Saturday in the 1970's, coated up with oil, basting herself continuously, not unlike a rotisserie chicken. It's the house with curving red front steps so steep, you have to keep moving outward as you go upward, just so as not to fall completely off. It's the house that hosted a dozen baby showers and wedding showers, even an actual wedding. It's the house where our whole lives revolved, where they started, where they were celebrated. And now, where one is ending.

When I was in college away from home for the first time, but not more than thirty miles or so from my Bubbe's house, I would find myself homesick. I would get in the car and the car would maneuver itself, without my consent, onto the 405 freeway South, then to the 10 East, off at Fairfax and then, before I knew it I would be sitting at Bubbe's breakfast table, a forkful of homemade potato salad (specially made for me, no onions) in one hand and a chocolate chip roll from the Jewish bakery in the other. All the while my Bubbe moving around me like a satellite, "You're too skinny, you need to eat something. Geeerrree, c'mon eat something." She was never happier than when she was sustaining her brood. And I was one of her favorite chicks, a role I relished and now realize, took for granted.

Sadie Kandel, my sweet Bubbe is 93 now, and though she has moments of incredible, piercing clarity, often she is removed from the here and now, dozing off in her chair at that same breakfast table. Not wanting to eat. Smiling almost mechanically, because she knows she's supposed to, I think. Because we're expecting it. It is time for her to get more care than 1230 S. Cadillac can give. It's time to move on. To move from the only house she has known for the last fifty-five years. On to wherever it is she's going. Without us.

I'm worried. I'm worried about her and the care she will get at a "home." I'm worried about the future new owners of this house that has meant everything to my family and whether there is any way a new family can live there, what with all the memories and love from ours filling every closet, bulging out from every cabinet and built-in drawer. How can someone else's child learn to potty staring at the pink tile I know so well? How can someone else lie on the couch looking out the big bay window I've been looking out of all of my life and see anything at all like what I've seen?

How will I explain to my four-year old and my one-year old what this place has meant to me? To have a place that no matter how far you roam, is always, always your home. Your north star. Your safe haven. In a life that had it's roots only with other people, never in my own residence for long, 1230 S. Cadillac was everything to me. The place where I was always OK. Better than OK. The best. The brightest. In a world where you find out all too fast how absoulutely ordinary and average you are, having a place, a person, that believed you weren't was, well, special.

1230 S. Cadillac, as my Bubbe always says to me before I leave her side to go wherever it is I am going: You lay in my heart. You lay in my heart.

1 comment:

P I N K said...

What a touching piece. My friend (who purchased the house) forwarded this to me. I love all the memories you shared about the house and I can tell you, the house is going to a beautiful human being. I know her and husband (newlyweds, I might add) will love the house as you have. I know the house will give them the love and warmth it had given your family over the years.