Title : A House, A Home
This place was once filled with laughter; a home cobbled together by lives of two broken families stitching together the broken pieces with shared hugs and shared meals. By the time I was born in the middle of the summer of 1990, the house was a home, lived in and worn. The halls had the carvings and crayons of six previous young inhabitants. Growing up here in a small nook of a street in the Kaumana district of Hilo was overwhelmingly lonely. The first years on those streets were full of short bike rides up and down the hills with very few friends that lived nearby (and by nearby I mean a few miles, and that they were school friends really), I basically had my infant cousin to talk to; Being the beginning of the next generation to occupy that home was a pretty rough place for a curious 5-year old.
The home itself was a warm, duplex with a large garage filled with car parts and car carapaces littering the oil soaked concrete. The area within 5 feet of the place smelled of oil, sweat, and orange GoJo hand soap (a favorite of mechanics and anyone that works with chemicals that follow you home). The garage was a stark contrast from the rest of the house, which was immaculate. The windows reflected years of careful cleaning, the only streaks in them were the reflections of my infant cousin ripping off his diaper again. The walls were solid wood, as many of us found out by crashing into them. The truly ominous structure in the house was the stairwell outside that felt like it was a hundred feet tall, which connected the top floor with the bottom floor and the garage.
My foster mom kept the home as tidy as she could following around two young, rambunctious boys who liked to open things up and take out as many pieces as possible. My grandfather spent most of his time asleep or working in the garage downstairs. My cousin Maika was in a state of constant motion, limbs everywhere, you could find him either running, squirming, dancing or crawling – barely ever dressed in more than a diaper, if even that. I would typically be found tinkering with the TV or VCR, undoing electronics and puzzles until I figured out how to put anything together as fast as I could take them apart. This was my first house and the only place that felt truly meant “home,” to me.
After years of moving from house to dilapidated house, my foster Mom and I were on our own after life took our other halves from us. I recall we were at a new place that was closer to downtown when we heard about my childhood home being up for sale again, finally leaving our extended family’s care. We were told there were 30 days between my evil uncle moving out and when it would be turned over to the bank. My foster mom and I decided to visit it one last time and the thousand some odd hugs she gave me as a kid when somehow my world shattered over a broken toy or missed TV show couldn’t have been returned all at once to fix the sadness that poured from her eyes. The house was annihilated. Obvious signs of dogs, children, and alcoholics have torn the love from the walls and windows. The world I knew from my childhood was void of this place.
We walked through the silent halls, our footsteps echoing off the filth as we tried to avoid giant stains of various origin on the floors. Not so much as an inch in any direction could be counted on to be clean. This disrespect to my grandfather’s home from his own son was the last wedge that separated me from my biological family. From that day forward I refused to acknowledge the majority of the Mattos clan, save for the polite nods when cousins of my generation tried to greet me in public. That small visit to the old house broke the last bit of loyalty I had to them. In that visit, I was flooded with memories of every moment they had all failed me and my foster mom, all the lies, all the times they represented the very worst of human traits. As we drove away from that house, and our old lives, my foster mom reminded me that there was a reason I wasn’t a part of that family, and that she never felt more sure that I belonged with her. Then she left me with a very profound quote that ended our night, we headed home in silence and had a quite night at home; she said, “Sometimes you aren’t born into your family, sometimes you just find the place you fit later.”