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Friday, October 31, 2014

Column: It’s time to tear this old house down

The cool thing about memories is that they hang until you choose to take them down.

Nate Atkins

April 9, 2014

The opinions expressed by The Maneater columnists do not represent the opinions of The Maneater editorial board.

This week, my home is being torn to the ground.

It’s a green house next to a community garden. It’s on the northern-most end of Ninth Street. One straight line connects it to college.

The house is something between crappy and cultured, weathered by years absent of maintenance. But the past two of those years were filled with life. For my roommates and me, it’s a life that’s about to end.

The house isn’t literally being torn to the ground, although it feels like it. Pickup trucks line our back yard as saws and hammers blitz away at the siding that envelops our home.

The plan is to strip away what’s worn and replace it with something new. The house will feature new tenants for the first time in years. One era ends as another begins.

The work feels nonstop during the days, and since it will benefit me very little in my five weeks remaining in this place, it feels like a burden. Last weekend, I woke to a mechanical saw outside my window.

The burden is more painful than annoying, though. It feels like the walls are closing in.

It isn’t necessarily college that I’ll miss entirely. But there’s something about this home that will burn in my mind forever. I think most of us feel that way about the house we grew up in. I’d moved so much as a child that I never got to attach to one box of memories until now.

This one feels like it’s mine. I found it in June 2012 when searching desperately just for somewhere to live. We had to chase our frazzled landlord all over Columbia to sign the lease. Then in August, we climbed through the window to move in. The house was a colossal mess at the time, so we spent the first two days of the lease scrubbing it head to toe. That was the weekend of my 21st birthday.

At that early stage, the house was a bare structure ready to be filled with our lives. Two years later, it is a filled structure ready to be rid of them.

Our lives have helped make this house what it is. Our dining room is four bare walls and a table. It’s a place to be simple, whereas our living room is a place to have fun. There’s a tiger painting above the fireplace and a big-screen TV we pawned off an in-home beauty parlor. A cardboard cutout of Madea from “Tyler Perry’s Diary of a Black Woman” greets us at the door every day.

The other rooms each offer something different. My roommate Wade’s room is freezing cold. Brian’s and Nassim’s rooms are scorching hot. My room has two doors as well as a desk that takes up half the space. It reminds me why I’m here.

One group of college kids checked out the house during the construction last weekend. We took them into the basement and had to explain the skeletons and bloody handprints and fog machines lining the place. They come from a party called “Hallowang” that we had a couple months after moving in.

The cool thing about memories is that they hang until you choose to take them down.

The ones in this house have to come down now. They’re being ripped off the outer fortress and thrown into a pile where they will mesh together and blur into one. They’ll be moved out of here and tossed into the trash. They’ll scatter, and I’ll wonder how much time will pass until I throw them out of my mind for good.

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