“Got enough money for this place?” An old friend posted a link to a real estate listing on my wall. Of course I can’t afford a house, and if I could, why would I want to move back to Bismarck, N.D., my old hometown?

Wait. That’s the house I grew up in! My family moved from NoDak to Colorado 17 years ago, and I haven’t seen this house since then. It’s bringing back memories.

The website shows photos and videos of our old home. While the house’s structure looks mostly the same, it looks more gorgeous than when we lived there. According to my mom, they’re selling it for more than twice what we sold it for in 2000.

I see they’ve put up a fence. Maybe because allegedly one of our neighbors started cooking meth. Or maybe they just wanted a fence. The vines are still growing like crazy on the concrete wall in the backyard. The garage doesn’t still have “Zoro” spray-painted on it — I was almost as good of at spelling as I was at vandalism.

Our kitchen looks like something from one of those home-improvement shows I hate watching. I remember my mom jumping for joy when we pulled up the linoleum to reveal hardwood floors. We didn’t have the money to fill in all the staple holes, but whoever redid the kitchen must have found the most gorgeous lumber on earth to replace our old floor.

The garden doesn’t really look like much of a garden any more. Growing up, I just assumed everybody in the world could go into their backyard and pick raspberries (and get stung by wasps while doing it). My dad can certainly pat himself on the back because the realtor said there are lots of apple and pear trees. He planted those, but they never produced anything edible while we lived there.

Goldie and Nicky (my goldfish), Texas (my turtle), Fang (my iguana), and a lot of bunnies and baby birds I tried rescuing are probably still buried in the backyard. From a virtual tour, I couldn’t tell if the trees my brother and I planted still stand. His was in the backyard, and mine was in the front. The last time I saw them, his tree was about twice the size of mine. But anybody who drove past our house saw my tree. Only hikers saw his.

The sandbox is gone, but I wonder if chunks of green Army men still scatter the lawn. I used to play “Army” in the sandbox. I threw some soldiers into the grass so my dad would mow over them. Those guys would be my POWs.

I thought my old room would look smaller, but it actually looks bigger. The Nine Inch Nails and X-Men Swimsuit Issue posters are gone, but I’m sure there’s still, um, some of my DNA scattered around the place.

In the past 17 years, I’ve lived in 17 other apartments, dorms and houses. But this place was a real home. Granted, I’d rather live in the Colorado Daily’s printing press room than live with my parents in Bismarck again, but I hope someday to live in a place I can truly call “home” again.

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