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The House As a Home



I happened across the listing by chance, as one so often does when perusing the internet. Curiously enough, I am familiar with both the house and the listing agent, the house having once belonged to a friend's family, and the listing agent being an old school chum. But it's the house that grabbed me. It's the house that, frankly, tugs at my heart strings.

315 S. Garfield Ave. in Champaign, Illinois is, in many respects, a house like any other. Cape code-style, 3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, located on a nice, quiet street (I promise I'm not attempting to do an ad for it). So, yes, a fairly typical middle-class home in the midwest. What makes this abode special (to me) is its history. Here resided my good friend Derrick and his parents Ike and Linda. Here, dear reader, I spent many happy moments of my youth.

There's the (really long) living room, taking up the entire front of the house. There, Derrick and I would sit and watch the BraveStarr cartoon afternoons after school. I remember their lovable boxer dog, Roxie, in one of her many rambunctious moods, running up and down that long living room. Behind the living room was the kitchen, and behind the kitchen was the door leading to the back porch and yard.

One warm summer night, Derrick had some friends come by for a sleepover. The twist was that we were going to spend the night in tents in his backyard. That evening also happened to be the HBO premiere of Predator, and his parents wheeled the TV out onto the back porch, and we came up from our tents, gathered around the tube, and watched as Carl Weathers' arm got torn off, and Ah-nold figured out a way to beat the alien. We laughed at all the violence. What else would red-blooded American pre-teens do?

Then, of course, there was the upstairs, which consisted of a hallway, a guest room, a bathroom and Derrick's (spacious) bedroom. There we would wile away the hours discussing important things such as the latest issue of Thor, what comic books we'd just read, or drawn (yes, we drew our own comics), and we would also watch TV. Lots and lots of TV. Some of this would be Derrick indulging me in my crush on actress Lea Thompson, so we'd watch Space Camp, Howard the Duck and her episode of Tales From the Crypt.

Derrick and I were able to spend some time together a few months ago, when he was back in town for our 20th high school reunion. It was nice, though not enough time. We reminisced, asking each other about how our parents were doing, and what happened to the pets we had back in the day. He asked about my cat, Punky. I caught my breath for a moment. There aren't many people who remember Punky, so it was special that he asked about her.

So, dear reader, 315 S. Garfield is for sale again. Derrick and his family haven't lived there for close to twenty years, but I remember when they did with much warmth and love. It's a reminder that houses aren't merely structures made of wood, plumbing, insulation and siding. A house is, if we're lucky, a home. It is a memory box, a witness to the lives, loves, families and friendships of all those who have resided within its walls.

I can tell you that 315 S. Garfield, while perhaps a typical middle-class midwestern home, is one heck of a memory box.


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