Our house was a very, very fine house

11 Aug

Today is a bittersweet day for me.  Today my parents moved out of the house that I grew up in, the house I lived in my first twenty years, the house that always been “my parents’ house,” even after it ceased to be mine.

I decided to respond to the occasion by doing one of the things I do best — writing.  Specifically, writing a letter to those who soon will call it home.  They may never see it, but at least the thoughts will be out there.


Dear New Owners of 9748 Normandy Drive,

9748 Normandy Drive

9748 Normandy Drive

Congratulations, and welcome to your new home.  I lived in it for twenty years, and called it “home” for an additional nine, so I know a thing or two about it.  Allow me to detail some of the features of your new abode that may not show up on a real estate listing.

When you come in the front door, straight ahead you see what we used as the formal dining room.  The dining room was only used for big special occasions (Christmas, Easter, etc.), but was the site of many a game of Balderdash and many tellings (or re-tellings) of Smith family stories on those special days.


The kitchen

Turn right through the doorway from the dining room and you’ll see the kitchen.  The smaller “family” table sat here, as did I through hours of homework in middle and high school and college.  Many family decisions were hatched here, too – like when my Mom chose to work for the University of Michigan rather than going through its Social Work grad school.  Many laughs also happened in this kitchen — including Mom talking to Dad and me about the “big playdown” (which most refer to as the NCAA basketball tournament.  It was also notably the site for the Chopped Challenge, a dog-eat-dog cooking competition between my Mom and partner Jace one New Year’s.

Outside - back

The view from the back.

From the kitchen sink, you can see a backyard filled with memories – me rolling down the hill, my father grilling, my mom and her seemingly-annual fight with the hydrangeas… a lot of outdoor fun.

The library.

The library.

Continue through the kitchen and you are in the library.  For the first several years of my life, it was the main family living space.  Here is where I learned to read (Monchichi’s Happy Birthday), watched Sesame Street and Mister Rogers with my Mom, and caught up on the happenings in Pine Valley (All My Children) when it was my Mom’s turn to pick a show.  My love for video games started here, too — Blades of Steel and Mario Bros/Duck Hunt on the NES.

Make a right from the entrance and exit through the doorway there.  Turn left and you will be at the door to the garage — the opening I would sprint to every day when my Dad got home from work — including the day when I was about seven that he shaved off his moustache without warning, causing me to skid to a dead stop and wonder what the heck had happened.

In that same alcove is the laundry room.  Relatively unassuming as laundry rooms are, they also served as the bedroom for our two most recent cats, Reeses and Mulligan.  I can still remember Mulligan nibbling at my toes as I pulled his food out of the closet to feed him his snack when I got home from school.



Come back out of that alcove, and make a left.  Proceed down the hall, past the half-bathroom, and to the doorway right beyond it.  Go down the stairs — the same stairs that I fell down when I was two-and-a-half, scaring the crap out of my mother, and resulting in stitches to the left side of my head.

The basement as a whole tells multiple stories, mostly surrounding my uncle.  My dad and my uncle finished this basement, for the most part.  I remember coming downstairs when I got home from school (I was in elementary school at the time) and listening to the 4:00 Funnies on WCSX radio with my uncle.

Back to the tour, though.  Look straight ahead at the bottom of the stairs and you will see the family living area, which used to be home to the only big screen in the house.  It was here that I watched many major sporting events with my Dad.

That same area was also the “hockey rink” where I played with my friend Mark and our mini-sticks after our first game together at Joe Louis Arena.

Pool table

Pool table room

From the bottom of the stairs, turn left.  Looking straight ahead you see the pool table room.  It was far too big to move so you’ll also see the pool table itself.  Here is where we spent a lot of later family holidays – my family bonding with my partner over countless games of billiards and Bloody Marys lovingly prepared by my Dad.

Walk straight ahead out of the pool table room, past both the stairs and

The view toward the hot tub room.

The view toward the hot tub room.

the living area, and you will see beautiful French doors leading to the hot tub room.  Many cool winters’ nights, mostly early in my childhood, were warmed up here.  Deeper inside the hot tub room is a room that functioned as equal parts exercise room for my parents and TV room for a younger Brian (before the TV in the living area became a reality).

Exiting the hot tub room, look to the left.  The bookshelfs there used to be filled with hundreds of my books, so many that I had to box up dozens of them in my early teens to be kept until I have or find

Hot tub

Hot tub

children of my own to pass them on to.

That’s enough of the basement, though, so let’s head back upstairs.  Exiting the basement, hang a left and then another heading up the stairs.  The large windows on this staircase are where I sat with my Mom and watched my best friend Mark’s moving truck leave when I was between third and fourth grade (little did I know, of course, that he’d be back in a year).  Continue up to the top of the stairs.  It was from the railing at the top of these stairs that a young Reeses fell after sticking his head through the banister (on the same day he came home after being neutered, by the way).

At the top of the stairs, make a right.  This, of course, is the master bedroom.  Here is where I came on Christmas morning, sometimes as early as 3:30 a.m., to ask my parents if it was late enough for us to wake everybody else up to see what Santa had brought (and admittedly, even into my teens, to begin sharing Christmas together).  I also showered here for most of my childhood.

Coming back out of the master suite, to the right is my first bedroom.  It was here that a baby Brian stood up in his crib and said to his mom, “Alloo, alloo” (I love you).  I lived here until 2nd grade, when I moved down the hall.

The next door on the right is my mom’s bathroom.  My biggest memory here is of the holidays, and my mom and aunt giggling as they got themselves ready for the day.

Next up is my last bedroom in this house.  This room served as many things – bedroom, study room, radio station (using my karaoke machine), schoolhouse, doctor’s office (using the Let’s Play kits that I got for Christmas one year), news studio… the list goes on and on.

Coming out of my bedroom and turning right, find the “study.”  The real estate listings define this as another bedroom, but it was always my Dad’s office, and, while we only had one family computer, the computer room.  It was on the computer in this room that I first met and got to know Jace, my partner of approaching nine and a half years.

Living room

Living room

Come out of the study, and back down the hall and stairs.  Turn left.  The big room at the end of the hall was the formal living room, and acted as the “family room” for the past 21 or so years.  This room was also a radio studio, in addition to being a basketball court, hockey rink, football field, and baseball field by way of the NES, Nintendo 64, and PlayStation 2 that at various times occupied this room.  In football, it was notably the site of the “Turkey Bowl,” an annual, 15-minute-quarters, full-bore football game on whichever Madden game we had at the time, between my Dad and I that most frequently took place the day after Thanksgiving.

Coming back out of the living room, walk back down the hall and stand at the bottom of the stairs.  There’s nothing more to see, but if you

Looking from the living room back down the hall

Looking from the living room back down the hall

close your eyes, I bet you can hear the sounds of love, laughter, family, and friendship that permeated this house for the past 29 years.

I understand that you’re just like we were – a Mom, Dad, and son.  It is my hope that you bring as much love into that house as has lived there for the past 29 years.  It is my hope that your little boy turns whichever of those upstairs rooms that ends up being his into an art studio, boxing ring, or whatever it is that brings him as much joy and laughter as I experienced there.

I hope you have enjoyed your tour.  Again, congratulations, and best of luck.

Brian Smith


One Response to “Our house was a very, very fine house”

  1. M. Nagy August 11, 2015 at 11:38 pm #

    Nice job, Brian! You should mail a copy to the new owners. You certainly have the address! It would be a cool thing for them to see.

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