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Blog: Bye, Bye House Part 1

(originally written 5/15/11)

I vividly remember having a crush on this girl in high school, Carla. She sat across from me in English class for most of the school year, and what can I say, I got smitten. Pretty hard. But as hard as it may be to believe now, at age 16 I was hopelessly shy and would have rather gone to jail than tell her how I felt. As time went on, it only got worse.


Anyway, one day towards the middle/end of the school year, I heard her say the name “Jose” twice. Curious, I faced her. She was talking to me.

We had been classmates for six months by this time, seated across from one another for most of it, and she still didn’t know my name.



The penetrating hurt administered that day ranked as the worst hurt I’d withstood in my 31 years, and the worst I thought I could feel.

Until this month.

When they took our house away.


For the first 23 years of my life, I hung my hat inside a massive, concealed structure at the corner of Tuolumne Street and Fleming Avenue in Vallejo, CA. By the time I came to be, the house wasn’t what it once was—or should have still been. But it was home.


Quick history: My grandfather bought this house in the 1960’s for his growing family. I was conceived two months after his April 1979 death; after a brief stint in the 510, baby Skillz settled in at 1250 Tuolumne Street.


The house, as I said, was/is massive. Five bedrooms, a living room, a family room, two kitchens (though only one was ever used as a kitchen during my lifetime), four bathrooms, a dining room, and a “breakfast” room which acted as our living room and “center of operations”.


Before you go “DAMN, SKILLZ! You grew up in luxury!” you have to understand that my grandma suffered decades worth of serious emotional—and at times, physical—abuse at the hands of her husband. By my birth she’d become something of a hoarder, and allowed much of the house to go into disrepair. In spite of often-faulty plumbing, wiring (a broken porch light led to my aunt falling down our stairs while carrying my 10-month old cousin in 1997), roofing and an at-times woefully neglected patio and backyard, 1250 was home.


It was where we celebrated every Thanksgiving and Christmas. It was where I held my birthday parties. It was where I made out with a girl for the first time, where I learned how to use power tools, and where the Vallejo PD handcuffed me for 10 minutes in a case of mistaken identity. There are so many house-related memories to be shared, too many for a standard blog. (Besides, I'm not here to talk about the past.)


If so inclined, continue to Part 2.

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