Welcome to the House of Mars. And don’t worry, it’s not filled with extraterrestrials, but then I can only vouch for myself. It wasn’t always called this, in fact it didn’t have a name other than the house at the end of the road, the one up on a ledge with all the stairs leading up to it. As for me, I called it my house. The name evolved when the Mars started moving in.
Now, the property is a different story. It has many names. When I moved in thirteen years ago my next door neighbor greeted me with “You realize you’ve moved to Paradise, don’t you?”
I stared at him in a double take because I’d just heard that from Eddie Money 30 minutes before. With the help of friends I’d moved everything up from my three room apartment in Harrison the day before. It had been an unseasonably warm day for March and so we ate the deli sandwiches I’d bought out on the deck and gazed up at the skeletal trees that stood watch in the winter woods that sloped steeply above the house. I hadn’t planned on staying overnight since there was the U-Haul truck to return but I had thought I’d be through with the hauling. But the medium-sized U-haul truck I’d thought was overkill hadn’t been able to hold everything. I’d underestimated the amount of stuff I managed to accumulate in five years
So Sunday morning in a cold drizzle , I crammed every nook and cranny of my little red Nissan 240SX with what I could fit, then went back into the empty apartment to cram Fremont, all 23 pounds of him, into his cat carrier. I locked the door for the last time, dropped off the keys with the landlord and with the carrier on the passenger seat facing the open road, we were off to our new life
We had traveled precisely two blocks when Fremont started into his signature yowl. I tried explaining that the ride was worth it, for once we got to our house, he’d have a back yard, a front yard, and his very own woods to roam. I hadn’t expected the promise of an idyllic life to quiet him but it was worth a try. Step two: drown him out with loud rock.And that’s where Eddie Money came in. I pushed the radio button and immediately risked driving off the road as my eyes darted to the radio.
“I’m gonna take you on a trip so far from here. I’ve got two tickets and we’re gonna disappear.”
It was a sign, I just knew it, a sign that buying the house in the middle of nowhere was going to be okay after all. You see it had been a sign five years ago when I really did have two tickets, and we were driving to the San Francisco Airport. My mood had been one of elation. I was finally moving back after fifteen years in the Bay Area. Fremont, on the other hand was leaving home. But the Californian cat had taken well to New York. He even liked the snow. Fremont liked anything outdoors. Even though, and I have witnesses to prove it, he actually looked both ways before crossing the street, I still worried about the traffic on my busy suburban street. And that’s why I bought the house on the end of a dead-end road that went nowhere
“Fremont, Fremont,” I tapped on the carrier, “listen, it’s that song again! It’s a sign.”
He either didn’t agree or he didn’t care, for the staccato of his complaining altered not one bit. It didn’t matter. I could sing louder
” I’ve got two tickets to Paradise, pack your bags we leave tonight.”
That was thirteen years ago. The Paradise moniker yielded to Fremont’s World and it would be another six years before the first Martians would land