35 Liberty Street
35 Liberty Street may seem a normal address, but for my family, 35 Liberty Street is a sauna in the summertime, an icebox in the wintertime, and a home to strange creatures all year long. Household tasks become exponentially difficult for the residents of this household; stepping through the door transports you to colonial times. Simply maintaining a comfortable temperature requires blood, sweat and the occasional tear.
In the winter, people drive by our house and see my dad chopping firewood while my brother and I stack makeshift towers constructed of crisscross logs. Stacking wood is like a game of Jenga: if one piece is out of place, the whole pile crashes down. Next challenge: building the fire. The wood stove, sitting in the center of our Cape, guards the antique fireplace like a dragon guards its lair. If treated properly and filled with new logs all day, our dragon heats the entire house. As winter passes, bringing summer, unbearable heat engulfs the house. Two or more fans are necessary to overpower the heat circulating my shoebox sized room; however, the temperature of our abode was once the least of our worries.
Five days of bats: bats refers to the flying, bacteria carrying creatures often associated with Halloween. “Chris, there is something behind the mirror,” shrieks my mom, slowly backing away from the mantel. The moment my dad shifts the corner of the mirror, a platoon of black creatures comes swarming out of their hiding place. My dad attempts to trap them in the dining room, but it is too late; our whole house is infested with my mom’s worst nightmare. For five days, my family did not get much sleep, living in fear of encountering an unwelcomed winged rodent nestled in a hat or hidden underneath a lamp shade. In those five days, my dad terminated 20 bats with a tennis racket, which may sound morbid, but the harsh elimination was the only way my father could rid our house of the sneaky, screeching devils. Once all the bats were gone, they had learned their lesson and have not returned…yet.
The problems with 35 Liberty Street do not just cease when I step out of the door. When cars come screaming over the railroad bridge with speeds well over the 35 M.P.H. limits, cars catch air and land right in front of our house. This prevents my family from buying a dog for fear it will be flattened. Cars are not the only mode of transportation that poses an issue. The Metro North train tracks are a length of a football field away. Trains fly by at all hours and rattle the house enough to knock down the occasional trinket. Sometimes, when we are “lucky”, the train company decides to clean the tracks at two in the morning, creating obnoxious noises that wake up all of Liberty Street. “We’re trying to sleep here!” yells my mom out the window in hopes of stopping their inconsiderate clanging.
I could write volumes on the tribulations of living in a 275 year old house, but I will stop here. I won’t tell you about the ghosts, but I will tell you that living in this old house has made me appreciate the simple pleasures of life and understand that hard work pays off; I envy my friends’ central AC during the summer, but as I feel my body begin to warm from the fire I built on an icy winter day, I know the time and effort was worth it.