January 18, 2012
Dear Bank of America,
Walking through the front door of our house with tears in our eyes after a coach unfairly cut us from a sports team or a teacher treated us badly, my mom would always threaten that she was going to write him or her, a strongly worded letter. My mom and dad, like most parents, hated seeing their children get hurt. They saw the hurt in our eyes and wanted to make everything better.
Well, my siblings and I are all grown up now and we are seeing the same hurt in our parent’s eyes. We saw the hurt in their eyes as they struggled to figure out how to pay for an inflated mortgage payment. We saw the hurt in their eyes when after job loss, a stroke and increasing medical expenses became too much, they could no longer afford their mortgage. Now we see the hurt in their eyes after countless nights of losing sleep, worrying about where they are going to live. Seeing this hurt in their eyes over the last year is what prompted me to write you, Bank of America, a strongly worded letter.
My parents, my four older siblings and I first entered the house on Alejandro Drive in the middle of winter twenty three years ago. In the time since, we have left quite a mark on the house. I am sharing this with you because I want you to really understand what you are getting when you take that house-our home-on Alejandro Drive.
When you enter the house, you will notice the colorful walls and vibrant tiles. We call that my mom’s “mid-life fiesta.” Enjoy that. It was a labor of love. Each colorful tile was made by mom and laid by my dad.
Those bookshelves, that mantel, the fence in the front yard…my dad built those. You are welcome.
When you look at the walls, you will see holes. The holes once held nails, which held some of the finest art you have ever seen. This is not art by Picasso or Van Gogh, but by the Bay Area’s best fiber artist, Oregon’s finest calligrapher and New York City’s best abstract artist. You can’t have the art.
There are bigger holes in the walls of the bedrooms from when our teenage angst got the best of us and we slammed the doors so hard it left a bit a mark. Have fun fixing those.
You might see some screws, way up on the highest ceiling. Those were securing the famous “Schmidt family Christmas mulberry branch” to the wall. This probably warrants a bit of an explanation but quite frankly, you don’t deserve one. Good luck getting them out.
You will notice railings on the walls. Those are a new addition to our house. My brothers built them. They were for my dad, to help him learn to walk again after he suffered a massive stroke last November. You probably remember; it was right around the time when you sent my parents a letter telling them their loan modification had been rejected. We really appreciated that.
There is much more that you will never understand about the true value of this house. It is worth more than whatever monetary value my parents owe you. The dinner parties, the sleepovers, the birthdays, my first steps down the hallway, graduations, weddings, and funerals all happened within those walls but they also happened within each of us and you can’t take those memories.
Tomorrow that house, my childhood home, is going up for auction. I will go to my parents house this weekend and pack up the stuff that my parents have accumulated over the last forty-two years. Forty-two years my parents have lived in that town. They have been teachers, mentors, community organizers, coaches, and so much more. They have given back so much to this community and now you and your corporate greed are kicking them to the curb and letting them fend for themselves. I hope you’re happy with that decision. I hope the money you get for the house is worth the loss that this community is going to feel in my parent’s absence.