Home. What a small word with so much meaning! Home was a two-story brick house on Durham Street. It was not quite a row house – every two homes were attached with a breezeway between that led to a small backyard. Our home had a large enough kitchen for a table and chairs, so we ate most of our meals there. A dining room for special occasions or sometimes for dinner, a spacious living room that contained, among other things, the piano where my mother played beautiful songs like “Lara’s Theme” from Dr. Zhivago, and a finished basement crowded with my father’s boxes filled with papers.
My bedroom was upstairs in the middle of the hallway. My sisters shared the larger back bedroom. I was most envious of the three windows as I only had one. My bed was a double bed because I always seemed to roll out of bed, and my mother thought a single bed would mean a nightly occurrence of hitting the floor. Stuffed animals sat on top of the bed, and my guitar case was tucked under the bed. The same desk my mother had as a child was the desk I sat at to do homework or write a poem. The hall bathroom was a place for bubble baths, and our parents’ room was a safe haven when we had a bad dream or developed a stomach ache.
I loved every inch of that house, but home was coming home to Sheba and later to Abigail, our faithful dogs. It was Mom reading stories to us or teaching us songs to sing. Home was Dad arriving in the evening with thinly sliced corn beef, coleslaw, kosher dill pickles right from the barrel, Gulden’s mustard, fresh bagels, and bottles of Coca Cola. It was a ritual every Friday night, and Dad did all the prep work. We just waited for our sandwiches, pickle, and soda – and if we were lucky – some potato chips, too.
Home was where I felt safe. Even when Mom and Dad were fighting – I loved coming home to 1207 Durham Street.