500 words about A House Number

By Paul Dougherty

The numbers 7722 had a different meaning to us 22 years ago, if they had any meaning at all.

If you add them all together you get 18. If you multiply them in succession you get 196. Same result in 1994 as in 2016. Some things never do change, and somethings change forever.

7 + 7 + 2 x 2 equal 32, the age of our eldest daughter. She spent a lot of time at 7722, when she wasn’t across town living with her mom.

If you take 7 + 7 x 2 you get the age of our twins. They spent most of their days at 7722, except for pre-selected weekends when we marched them off, bags in tow, to be with their dad.

It always seemed unfair in a way to have one child coming in on the weekends and two going out. Life has a way of playing cruel tricks on you when you least expect it. Some say it kept us on our toes, but many a night it left us flat-footed, questioning the choices we made for ourselves and the ones we most desperately loved.

If you put 2 and 2 side by side you get the age of our youngest son, who the other three siblings might call “The Special One.” At times it might’ve seemed that way. Looking back, at times it was.

In some ways the numbers 7722 have stayed the same over the last 22 years. But let me assure you of one thing: To us they certainly did not. They were once just markers on a post, aiding visitors to find their destination, watching trick-or-treaters parade by while giggling over their conquests, helping our faithful government employees fulfill their duties. They had significance then, but not the deep-ingrained significance they came to have for a group of strangers who barged in and started changing and arranging things until they were right. Just right.

I know the numbers 7722 had others who might have treasured them in the past. I also know there will be others who will admire the numbers in the future. But that is just something I refuse to accept.

7722 became our numbers, our destination.

Our destination from preschool, kindergarten, work, little league, grade school, church and soccer. From middle school, volunteering, recitals, softball, synagogue, grocery shopping and high school. It was where we went to be us, ourselves, in the comfort of an all forgiving love and the want to understand each other’s minute or grandiose problems.

It was where blood from scraped knees sunk into the wooden floors; where scars from lost friendships stayed private in our walls; where broken hearts mended, and those same scraped knees healed. It was where family game night was so looked forward to; where the laughter at times was deafening and the crying at times was as painful as it can get.

And yes, in some ways 7722 are just numbers — but there are a few who know different.

Editor’s note: This story is part of our September 2016 series ‘Hundreds of Words about Location: Where are you, and how does it affect how you see the world?’

 

Paul Dougherty lives with his wife Lisa at 7722 Union Avenue. They have four children, two granddaughters and a grandson on the way. Says Paul, “We have a great extended family and many fantastic friends. We are very fortunate.”


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