A Letter to the Stranger Moving Into My Childhood Home

As I've written before, my parents have sold my childhood home in New Rochelle, NY and are currently in the process of moving to the land of retirees, alligators, and affordable outlet shopping: Florida. The last month has been a mix of emotions, full of nostalgia, and ultimately, undeniably bittersweet. It's hard to imagine that some stranger will occupy the space where so many personal memories were created. To help cope and put one last stamp of closure on this experience, I mailed the following letter to the woman who will be starting a new life where my family once started one three decades ago...

Dear New Resident of Apartment 3D,

My name is Hiko. I realize we have never met, and we probably never will.

I am the son of Sandy and Tatsuya Mitsuzuka, the previous owners of the comfy third-floor, two-bedroom corner space you now call home.

First of all, congrats. I wish you the best of luck and hope you make as many memories here as my family and I have throughout the past 31 years.

31 years. So much has happened within these walls. This apartment was once the epicenter of nearly every family holiday celebration: Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, birthdays, even Meatloaf Wednesdays, a weekly tradition my mother upheld throughout most of the late 80s and early 90s. (Believe it or not, 22 people once filled this dining room and living room.) And then there were those other occasions: elementary school sleepovers, movie nights, baby showers, post-funeral gatherings, post-graduation lunches.

In other words, there's a lot of history embedded in this space, and I know there's more to be made. The end of our era is the beginning of yours. It's exciting, it's a little sad, and it's a whole other jumble of emotions worth feeling as I realize this is the last piece of mail I will ever send to this address.

If you're new to New Rochelle, you've arrived at just the right time. Downtown seems to be booming (Enjoy that new Barnes & Noble cafe at New Roc City), and it looks like there are big plans to develop the Echo Bay district (down by the McDonald's). If you want a good breakfast served with a smile while supporting local business, sit at the counter at Starlite Diner II on Main Street. If you're a reader, say hello to the New Rochelle Public Library on Memorial Highway (around the corner from Starlite II), where I once worked as a "tech page" during the summer of '99. And if you're a jogger or cyclist, take a quick trip down to Glen Island Park, where I also worked during the summers of 2000 through 2002.

Again, best of luck in your new home. I hope you make it your own. (Actually, you may want to keep that original black tile in the bathroom; it's vintage and provides a lot of character, don't you think?) But most of all, treat Apartment 3D well and savor every moment you spend in it. I was fortunate enough to come back earlier this summer and say goodbye one last time to the rooms and spaces that held so many memories and so much love and support.

I wish you just as many warm memories and trust that it's in good hands.

Hiko Mitsuzuka

P.S. -- Beware the vengeful ghost of the old woman who was brutally murdered in the master bedroom back in the 1940s...totally kidding.



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