Poetry / Bill Hollands
:: In Which I Search Zillow® for My Childhood Home and Discover It’s for Sale ::
Our modest 1950s rambler now mid-century modern, façade crisp white. 40 years, 3000 miles, one click and I’m in. Everything is white— the walls, the fireplace, even the living room’s old wood paneling. No more murky fish tank. Faux fir floors glisten, wall-to-wall all gone. I grew up here? 3D Walkthrough arrows show me the way. I stumble forward, pull up short, lurch again, a drunk, a toddler, a robot on the fritz. I zip down the hallway (wasn’t it longer?) to my brother’s lair, then my room—no more shelves for my beer can collection. Walls slant crazily as I careen around corners. Why can’t I find my parents’ room? How do I back up? I stagger to the kitchen, a movie set of stainless steel and granite. Through it all the staged furniture poses, Scandinavian blond wood, no clutter of records, trophies, dog bowls, Sports Illustrated. I need air, so I click Street View and pan around the old neighborhood, now gated McMansions. Charming family home. Move-in ready. Enjoy as is or tear down and build the home of your dreams!
From the writer
:: Account ::
Something about the real estate website Zillow captures the zeitgeist of this moment. Or maybe a zeitgeist since I don’t really believe in just one. In any case, witness the recent Saturday Night Live spoof in which the characters browse Zillow listings as a replacement for sex. The ultimate aspirational fantasy, who doesn’t like to watch? Or, as in the case of this poem, search for one’s childhood home? I bet I’m not the only one who has done this on a boring Tuesday night. The experience gets even weirder when you can (virtually) go inside and match your inevitably distorted memories to the cold realities of marketing. Memory and fantasy merge with capitalism and the American Dream of homeownership, all (of course) in isolation and on a screen. What’s more 2021 than that?
Bill Hollands lives in Seattle with his husband and their son. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Rattle, North American Review, DIAGRAM, The American Journal of Poetry, Hawai’i Pacific Review, The Summerset Review, and elsewhere. He was recently named a finalist for North American Review’s James Hearst Poetry Prize and a semi-finalist for Iron Horse Literary Review’s National Poetry Month competition.