It’s 4:53 in the morning, I’m in the driveway , and it’s finally hitting me like a ton of bricks: I’m no longer going to live at 7130 Mardel Avenue. The feels are invading my chest like a Roman Army.
The South City home has been ours since July 9, 2009; our first legit house after a series of apartments and a duplex on Oleatha. You find out a lot about yourself when you think about all the places you’ve been. It’s like flipping a book of old pictures fast enough until they blend into one clear picture.
Eight years ago, my wife and I were working a couple of odd jobs, as a warehouse grunt and a nanny. We paid the bills, hardly saved any money, and then everything changed on September 14, 2011.
Vincent Daniel Buffa was born, and we brought him home to the Mardel house like a care package that we had no idea how to handle. At least I didn’t. We had his first birthday party at this house. Bill DeWitt III showed up. We smeared the kid with a cake. Good times happened.
In 2012, my wife and I lost our jobs, and both of us lived on unemployment for months. It wasn’t easy, but we got through it. Sometimes, you simply have to lower your head, lie to yourself about it being okay, and barrel through until you see the clear. 2012 was dark and shitty, but thankfully calendars flip.
We watched a World Series game from our backyard in 2013, and left our home for an Arkansas apartment in 2014, but returned in 2016 to our Mardel home.
*These are cliff note highlights of our time there, but since I’m writing this on zero hours of sleep, there’s comfort in at least a third of this making sense.
Now, we are leaving again. Our home must be pretty confused. Almost a year to the day after Vinny and I returned to St. Louis, we are saying goodbye like 360 days were a blip on the radar. Life has a tricky way of reminding you it is holding all 52 cards at the poker table.
Things change so fucking fast, because at one point this year, this house was going to be it for us. Make some upgrades, fix a few things, and settle in. That’s it. I don’t get a boner over house projects or design plans. That is my wife’s department. I help when needed and wait for it to be done. A smile awakens afterwards when everything is clean.
Our house went on the market in May with the hopes of selling within a month. That was my goal at least. Any longer and you aren’t getting anywhere. After a weekend where there were six showings, an offer was made and we accepted. Suddenly, the countdown had begun.
But it was still our home. I cleaned it. I mowed the lawn and took care of it. It wasn’t gone yet. Nothing was official in my book.
This morning, it’s gone. In less than five hours, a boatload of memories will conclude with the official closing at the realtors office.
Last night, after my dad and I moved the television out, I had to take a moment. I turned on all the lights and just looked around at a house that was witness to so many occasions. I snapped a few photos. There were no tears. That only happens when Platoon or The Untouchables comes on.
I went in each room and stored a memory.
The living room: thinking about that time right after we came home with Vinny. Freaked out yet ready.
The kitchen: all the cooking, but the rapid conversations at the table. So many drinks consumed there. Our own round table.
The master bedroom: the place where I found out both my grandmothers died. Years apart but the same room. Weird.
The office: Vinny’s initial bedroom. The sight of diaper changing school. Heartbreak when his first projectile vomit incident turned into what would require surgery. The sweet and the bitter.
The second bedroom: where I wrote my first article for KSDK News, about Patrik Berglund.
The basement: Rachel running and gunning during every tornado warning. All the laundry. The boxing bag sessions.
The backyard is where we had fires and friends mixed with wiffle ball and conversation. The best of times.
A house isn’t a living breathing thing in the general train of thought, but it’s got a pulse all its own. The roof needs care, the furnace needs cleaning, and the outside needs a brush. When I looked at the Mardel house this morning, I saw an old friend. Over eight years, it did a fine job of protecting.
Now that job holder changes addresses. On July 21, we move into Buffa Estate 2.0. I’m excited, if weary of the next two weeks, but I’m also sad to see the old house go. I wasn’t done with it yet.
Whether we like it or not, the places we live stick with us.
So long, Mardel house. Thanks for looking out.