Sunday, December 6, 2009
When we moved to Arizona, we had quite a job finding a house. There were seven girls - six unmarried - and my parents, so we needed like ten thousand bedrooms. In Skokie we had somehow gotten by with three bedrooms, which made for a very intense home life. There were the Parents in one bedroom, and then there were the seven daughters split into the two remaining bedrooms: two sets of clawing, fighting sisters battling it out for every inch of space.
The whole move of ours turned out to be quite a shock anyway. Going from four seasons to two seasons, from snowstorms to duststorms, from trees to cactus, was all quite a shock. And going from a home that had some substance, like a basement and a second story and bricks, to a house that looked like a flat domino that had been thrown across the surface of the desert, that took some getting used to.
My parents searched and searched. The house had to be just right: not too close to the Jewish community, not too far. Kind of more in a Jewish expatriot community. One day, after we overheard our own real estate agent use an anti-semitic term to refer to negotiating, my dad stormed out of the house we were looking at. There, across the street, was a billboard for the neighborhood in which we ended up: Rich Rosen's Hacienda Del Sol. Perfect. A street of sixteen houses, all filled with Jews.
We just needed some basic information. How many bedrooms? Five. Was there a pool? Yes. That was it. Who needed to ask about construction methods? It was Arizona, not the Antarctic! We drove back to Skokie, loaded up the car and moved.
Add thirty-six years to that and there my mother sits still. The billboard gone. The expatriot Jews back to their homelands, my mother's house, built like a refrigerator, a crumbling ruin around her ears.