Tuesday, December 9, 2008

So long, Piper Court!

I think I have a pretty good handle on radio's "vagabond lifestyle". I've forced my wife to move more times than she's probably ever wanted to, and suprisingly our relationship is still intact! Throughout all of these various moves to DC, Knoxville, Baltimore, Pittsburgh and so on, my mother was always amazed that I, and folks like me, could just throw all my belongings in a Ryder truck and hit the highway.

Last week she did it herself. After 33 years, my parents finally exited Piper Court in Canton, Ohio for a small, 2-bedroom apartment on the other side of town. And this time, I'm the one who's amazed.

As children, we grew up in two houses: a two-story with a glassed-in front porch on 14th street and, two houses down, a big white colonial at 1414 Piper Court. I can still remember, during freshman year of high school, carrying boxes down the street. It was one way to save on a moving truck! Although I was raised on 14th Street, the home on Piper Court will be the one I'll always remember.

I come from a big family...three brothers and three sisters, with one brother being my twin. (Yes, there are two of us. Fortunately for Mark, we're "fraternal twins".) So, as the years passed and various brothers and sisters grew up, married, and had children, the Christmas Eve celebrations and other events became, understandably, quite crowded. Also during those years, the neighborhood itself became quite neglected. Many of the neighborhood's grand old middle-class homes with well-manicured lawns and cared-for property had become, essentially, run-down rental units. There were even instances where people would knock on my parents' front door at 11 o'clock at night asking for money and such...and my father would answer the door! What once served as a safe place to sit outside on the front porch on a hot, summer evening was now just a target for crime and vandalism.

They'd had it on the market for about 9 months when another landlord interesting in renting out yet another home on Piper Court made them an offer. In the throes of today's dismal economy, they had no other choice but to take it. I wasn't able to be there for "The Move". Through phone calls and text messages, I tried to follow the saga of my mother trying to decide what items to keep, throw out, or give away. It's hard enough for me to do it every couple years. I can't even imagine what was going through her mind.

Now, they spend their time organizing their new apartment and trying to get used to a completely new environment and lifestyle. I assume that they're probably shell-shocked over the fact that they don't have to listen to gunshots, dozens of barking dogs left out all night, vagrants ringing their doorbell at midnight, the house on one side playing Snoop Dog till 3 in the morning, and the guy in the other house outside during the day chipping golf balls with a 9-iron into the side of his own house.

I'll miss that house. More importantly, I'll miss my home. My brother and I shared an attic bedroom, until he went off to school. I spent hours in that room with headphones on air-drumming with Neil Peart on A Farewell to Kings, matching Jimmy Page lick-for-lick on Houses of the Holy, and providing backing vocals for Bruce on Darkness on the Edge of Town. It's also the home where Mark and I, on more-than-a-few-occasions, staggered in at some ungodly hour, only to find my mother still up, waiting for us so that she could give "the lecture", while we stood there, struggling to keep our eyes open and our feet on the ground. It's the home where our grandmother stayed with us throughout the winters until she passed away, and where brothers and sisters brought home their boyfriends and girlfriends, a few of which are still their husbands and their wives. It's the home where I told my mother I was going to the seminary to be a priest, and the home where I told her after graduating that I had decided not to be a priest.

I'm happy for them, though. I certainly was one of the children who urged them to try to sell the home and move out of the area. But it was definitely odd to walk into an unknown apartment lobby, look up, and see my parents peeking their heads outside of an strange new home. It was even more surreal to see their easily recognizable belongings now adorning the rooms of a new place on the other side of town. It might as well have been the other side of the world. But, as I look around at the well-manicured lawns and the ample walking areas, I feel pretty good that they've made the right decision.

But I'll miss that old white colonial on Piper Court, a mere ten blocks from the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Excuse me while I put on "D'yer Mak'er" and go pound-for-pound with Bonzo. Just like old times.


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