We all have it. That one house in the neighborhood that we all flock to. That one mom who let us all in. That one family that shaped us and showed us that not all families are the same.
The Eazors lived at the intersection of Olympic Heights and Marathon. I am certain, that I walked up the street to their house every day growing up, to get to my best friend Kelly's.
Sure, we had our pick of swim clubs, country clubs, ball fields, cornfields and summer cottages, but the main attraction on our block, was the sewie hole. It sat on the bend rounding Marathon Drive and was situated perfectly in front of the Eazor's. That's where 'the boys' hung out. Their long bodies would spread across the lawn. Frisbees would sail through the air at record speed. The sounds of motorcycles and mufflers and a steady murmur of wit and sarcasm would flood my ears, as I made my way past them, to get to 1118.
Kelly had four older siblings. Robin, Curt, Candy and Cary. Their names rattle off as easily as John, Paul, George and Ringo. Robin set the stage. He was a brilliant musician who played everything by ear. He had long shaggy hair, soulful eyes and a slow smile. Shy like his mom, he did most of his talking on the piano. One day, riding his brother Cary on the back of his bike, he pointed ahead and said, "There's a mirage. I think." That's typical Eazor humor.
Curt came next. Where Robin had soul, Curt had heart. At any given time, the two would randomly slide onto the piano bench and bang out a song. Chopsticks was my favorite. While Robin was smooth, Curt would rock wildly back and forth, his hair in his eyes, a biting grin. Everything was cool with Curt. Like he had a secret. Curt rocked when he played, he rocked while he watched TV and he rocked through dinner. He also taught me how to quick fake eat a full plate of spaghetti.
Candy was Kelly's only sister. She had a Goldie Hawn smile and an air for adventure. Candy was always taking off to be a part of something extraordinary. There was always a cause, a concert, a crusade. Seconds after the cars would beep to pick her up, Kelly and I would dive into her four poster bed. Together, we would lay back and take it all in. Her clothes, her record collection, Peter Max posters, makeup, turquoise jewelry, leather bags, boots, bandanas, hats, jackets, books. It was a gypsy's room. A museum of cool. Just being in there, you hoped some of it might rub off.
Cary Jay was everybody's. Everyone wanted to hang out with Cary. He was a quiet funny and a kind cool. I personally adored him and although I tried to buy him for 99 cents and a love note, I would always be Kelly's runt friend. This was never more clear than on a warm spring day. Kelly and I had walked to the cornfield to watch the boys play ball and standing behind the new dugout was a beautiful girl in Levis and a tank top. She seemed to make everyone smile. She was natural. "Who's that?" I asked Kelly. But I already knew the answer. They were one in the same - Cary and Linda, and I adored her too, immediately.
As Kelly blazed through the chaos of her own childhood - I was there. From Kelly, I learned to take a good fall, to laugh it off, to stand up for myself, to jump in first, to finish the fight. Kelly and I were never bored. We built things, we wrecked things. We made our own alphabet, we made the punishment as fun as the crime. We were explorers and inventors. Kelly was tough to most, but I got to see the soft side, too and I consider that a privilege.
All of the Eazors were tough. Considering Mr. Eazor's lifelong commitment to athletics, the fact that the house intersected Olympic and Marathon, may not have been coincidence. As soon as we could lace our own shoes, he took Kelly and me to the high school track. I was so little that I thought the long jump pit was a sandbox. Soon, we would be running alongside him - and within seconds, far far behind him. Mr. Eazor was a fierce competitor. A national ironman triathlete. When I saw him a few years back, he said, "What are you doing?" I knew what he meant. I answered, "Running, light weights, push ups." "Good," he said.
With Mrs. Eazor, I witnessed grace, first hand. She was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen in real life and I can say that to this day without slighting my own mom, who says the same thing. June Eazor, with her jet black hair, her olive skin and her green eyes. She walked softly in her Adrienne Vittadini penny loafers. She would curl her legs up on the oversized chair in the family room and read. I always wondered if the words on the page were as pleasant as the look on her face, as she read them. In all the years, through all the band practices right beneath her bedroom, I never heard her yell. She did so much for Mr. Eazor and did so not in obligation, but in partnership.
In saying goodbye to Mr. Eazor this past winter, my heart is flooded with sights and sounds from childhood. The 'Shack", the marble pot we burned and buried in the back yard, Mr. Eazor's helicopter landing in the cornfield, causing havoc at Churchill Valley Country Club, stealing grape leaves from the pot on the stove, fresh goat's milk cream cheese from the farm, visiting Grandma Sally in Rochester, watching Candy iron her hair in the living room, Mr. Eazor's vitamins lined up on the window sill, Eazor trucks making their way up our road, Kelly singing every line to Stairway To Heaven, the boys playing Heart and Soul.
Seeing the whole family together again, it makes me want to thank them for sharing their home and their lives with me. For letting me in. For treating me like I belonged. For introducing me to the Beatles and the Stones, and most of all, for showing me what c o o l really is.