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  • Writer's pictureJay Cameron Parker

"Get Out!"

Our eviction notice came in the way of a registered letter. We’ve lived in this house for 17 years, and our landlord lives a block away. We see him all the time. Our relationship is more than cordial; it’s friendly. So, this letter telling us we had to leave because the house needed major renovations came as a complete surprise.

When we moved here, my family consisted of my wife and me, three teenage children, a dog, and a cat. It was perfect for our needs. It’s a 3-bedroom, 2-bath Spanish ranch-style house built in the 1920s in a historic neighborhood. My wife and I love old stuff, and this place has a telephone nook in the hallway and a small niche for milk deliveries near the back door. I’m pretty sure at one time, it had a septic tank and an incinerator in the backyard, but those are both gone. The doors and corridors are narrow, as are the gates to get into the backyard. Furniture must have been smaller and shorter in the 1920s.

While here, my children attended and graduated high school; four of my grandchildren were born, and two lived here from the time they were infants. My daughters married and left, and my son, an actor, still lives here when he’s not out of town on a gig. When my mother was diagnosed with cancer, she lived here for over a year until she passed away. Her funeral reception was held here. Our cat went missing and never returned. Another was hit by a car and died in our kitchen. Our beloved dog, Walter, spent his last day of life here. We’ve had 16 Christmas’s in this house and a lot of birthday parties. Our arguments, laughter, and sobs have bounced off the walls of every room.

My wife works for the school district in our city as a speech pathologist. Her office is a block away. I ran a theater company in the downtown area, about a mile away. First, out of a rented dance studio, then out of a converted storefront that the city donated to us, along with a lot of money to renovate. For 11 years, the theater was a bright gem in the growing downtown district. As the area thrived, rents increased, and we couldn’t keep up. The main street is now saturated with restaurants and bars.

I wrote my first four novels in this house, as well as several plays and a screenplay.

I know we have been very fortunate. The streets of Downtown Los Angeles, just 6 miles away, are lined with people living in tents. Families are living in cars and RV’s even closer. An acting and writing career is full of financial peaks and valleys. There have been times of struggle, but we’ve been very blessed.

In our search for a new place, I first felt we needed to find something with everything we have now. But I’m beginning to realize that our needs differ from 17 years ago. We don’t need such a big place anymore. We don’t need so many things.

In my new novel, The Phantom Affliction, the main character, Jack Kelly, returns home from the Pacific during World War II. He’s lost his leg in battle. While away, his father, a Chicago cop, was killed in the line of duty. Jack’s girlfriend has run off with another man, and the bank is moving in to foreclose on his childhood home. He feels the pain of not only the leg that isn’t there anymore but the loss of his father, girlfriend, and possibly his home. The more he struggles to hold on to what is gone, the more trouble he gets into. Which, I hope, makes for good reading.

For us, it’s time to release and surrender. Doing this has never been easy, but in my experience, surrender is usually accompanied by freedom. If only it weren’t so darn scary.


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