You Can Go Home Again Even If It’s Someone Else’s Home: Everyday Magic, Day 740

DSCN1937As I was photographing the side of the house where I grew up in Manalapan, New Jersey, a handsome man came to the window and opened it. “Oh, I’m so sorry,” I told him. “I know this looks strange, but you see, I used to live here.” It turns out that at the moment I was creeping around his office, he was working on a film, thinking to himself, “I need a writer.” Sometimes the universe cracks itself up.

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Residents present and past

Within moments, Adam, the man who lives with his wife in the house where I lived from ages eight to 19, was shaking my hand, and allowing my daughter, mom and me inside. The synchronicities abounded. “This is the house where I became a writer. It’s an artist house,” I told him. He understood — he’s a photographer and filmmaker, and his wife, a painter. We talked about the bad mojo of my parents’ divorce in this house, and the subsequent divorce of the people who moved in after my family, as well as the healing energy of this place.

Adam and my mom discuss the backyard, past and present

Adam and my mom discuss the backyard, past and present

Inside and out, the house has flourished. Gone are the walls dividing the kitchen and ornamental dining room, and family room and living room. Spaciousness, light, color and life whirl through house instead. When we got to my bedroom, I shared another wall-removal story: what it was as a 16-year-old to wake up one morning after a 12-hour shift the day before at the Englishtown Auction (largest flea market on the planet as far as we were concerned), open my door, and see all sky. That was beginning of my father’s removal of most of the upstairs to create another common room and a few more bedrooms.

Outside, the gardens were lush, artistic and inviting, and I was especially thrilled

The view from my old bedroom window

The view from my old bedroom window

to see that Adam raises tomatoes and bounties of flowers. The hill where I sat nestled among bushes and trees for hours, journal in hand, was still mildly wild and steep. The railroad ties that framed a 25′ x 15′ sandbox — my dad never did anything small — in lieu of a fabulous deck and oasis of peace.

So I got to go home again to the place I held onto for dear life as a teenager when the rest of my world and family spun out of control. I lived here with my family of origin, alone with my dad, and with a big stepfamily and Trinidadian housekeeper. During all those years, I tucked myself between the pussy willows on the left-side of the house, just outside Adam’s office window, and wrote plays and poems. Now I return to discover the place continues to shelter artists, having come home to its best self.

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8 responses to “You Can Go Home Again Even If It’s Someone Else’s Home: Everyday Magic, Day 740

  1. I love your article Caryn and nostalgia which is my genre. How fortunate to be able to revisit those speaking shadows of your past. I get all warm and fuzzy just thinking about it. What an experience it must have been.

  2. I’m sorry I did not get to meet you. I presently live in the house; I am Adam’s wife. I’m sure it must have brought back some old memories walking around. And funny….I asked Adam if you looked out your old bedroom window, cause that would evoke an unbelievable feeling of nostalgia. But he was not sure. Then, when reading that part in your blog, I felt happy for you.

    • Individual Poet

      Thank you so much, Peggi, and thanks for your and Adam’s hospitality. Your home is so lovely, and I loved seeing how it’s a haven for people who create!

  3. What a fortuitous encounter and wonderful story.

  4. danielbbentley

    You must have done a good job of describing the house in The Divorce Girl cause that’s almost exactly what I pictured when I read it. How fun. Dan’l B

  5. What an amazing gift to find your childhood home full of such beauty! Thank you for sharing your story. Love it!

  6. what a great story from Adam’s mother-in-law Fran

    • Individual Poet

      Thanks so much, Fran, and it was so wonderful to see how beautiful Peggi and Adam made the house!