I grew up in the big brick house on ridge road.

Canton, OH. 1980. I am 12 years old.

The house has four stories. When we moved in it was a two-story house, just upstairs and downstairs. By the time I’m 12 my parents have turned the attic into a huge bedroom suite where my two brothers and I shared a large sleep-and-play area, a bathroom and a storage room. (The storage room was where I would later be held for 15 seconds at gunpoint by Marilyn Manson, but that’s another story for another post.) They’d also turned the basement into a rec room, laundry and half bath.

My sister, Emily, and my parents had rooms on the second (originally, upstairs) floor. The second floor also had a guest room where for a while my Aunt Emily roomed with us.

When Auntie Em moved it started an ongoing discussion of how we would distinguish the Emilys. There was one camp that thought that Auntie Em should be B.Em, Big Emily, and sister Emily should be L.Em, Little Emily. Auntie Em proposed the opposite. L.Em, she contended, should stand for Large Emily and B.Em should stand for Baby Emily. The discussion continues at family gatherings to this day. We’ll see if it changes now that sister Emily has a baby of her own.

The main floor, or downstairs, was where all the action happened. Downstairs had four rooms. The kitchen with its attached breakfast nook tended to be the center of family life in the first part of the day. After school most of the family’s activity moved to the living room, except at dinnertime. Dinnertime was always in the dining room. Everyone was required to be present. There was also a TV room off the end of the living room. The TV room was also called the cold room because it didn’t have any heat in winter. We were only allowed one hour of TV a day.

My parents still live in the big brick house on Ridge Road. My father once said the only way he would ever leave there is in a box. I’m pretty sure he still feels that way.

Lots of changes have come and gone since 1980. The neighborhood used to be full of kids, and now is full of senior citizens. The city has declared it part of a “safety corredor” meaning, I think, that it’s a high-crime area. I suppose it’s been that way ever since Marilyn Manson broke in, come to think of it. There’s a neighborhood association now. They have block captains and that sort of thing. They’ve put American flags up on all the streetlights.

That’s where I lived when I was 12. I was awkward, geeky, Dungeons & Dragons playing seventh grader with an attitude, mother, father, two brothers, a sister, a live-in spinster-librarian aunt and a cat.

Those were the days.