My father always talked about moving from Revere to Lynnfield, Mass., because he didn’t like the school system. At the same time, he fought for and won the Lynnway house in the divorce, partly on the promise that me and my siblings could continue to grow up there and not be uprooted. That’s how my mother used to tell it, anyway.
But by 1984, things changed and my father put the house on the market. My brother had just died and my soon-to-be step-mom, Dianne, and two step-siblings were now living with us. I think Dad and Dianne were looking for a fresh start, and despite my sister’s fierce misgivings, I was eager to leave Revere, too.
I was 14 and, three years into my parents’ divorce, there was still a lot of venom in the air. I was in my first year of junior high and hating every second of it.
There were also a lot of bad memories in that house, and I was hoping for a getaway.
There were the memories of me getting sick from the Crohn’s Disease and the Prednisone side-effects, of my mother beating the shit out of my sister every morning because inevitably one morning chore or another would fail to meet my mother’s standards; the fighting between my parents, and the fear of the ocean after the sea rose up and ravaged my neighborhood during the Blizzard of 1978.
There was always something strange about living there. One morning I woke up to find the kitchen table had been turned into a Ouija board. My mother used crayon to do that. It turned out she and some friends decided to have a seance the night before. That stuff was always happening. As an adult it wouldn’t have seemed all that odd. As a kid it was bonkers.
So I was happy in 1984 when Dad told us we were moving to Lynnfield. That was it: the new beginning I craved. They signed a purchase-and-sale agreement on a house in Lynnfield and we even got a tour of the place.
Then, at the 11th hour they backed out because of fierce resistance from my sister and step-sister.
I was devastated, and I think it fueled some of my rebellious nature from there on out.
By 1992 I was a grown-up still living like a kid under my father’s roof. My attitude about the Lynnway house had softened because I got to take over the basement apartment in 1987. It was my space, rent-free, and I took full advantage of it. I partied hard in that space. But in 1992 we did end up moving to Lynnfield.
Looking back, I’m glad we stayed as long as we did. I would go on to experience happier coming-of-age moments in that house, like the parties I mentioned in the last paragraph.
And, had I left Revere as a teen, I never would have made the friendships that would help define me as an adult.
It’s a good lesson for those who spend a lot of time dreaming of what could have been.
I think God puts us in certain places for a reason, and I was meant to spend my entire upbringing in Revere.