Excerpt: 'Home,' by John Edwards

There was music on those streets. Leon Pattilo lived right down the block. He had a band, played piano with those long hands he had, sang lead vocals with Santana. His father was a cab driver. You could always find musicians hanging out at their house, and music coming out of it. Sly Stone was a DJ then, and he used to come sit in all the time. Three doors down was Bobby Freeman, who had a red Impala and a big hit with "Do You Wanna Dance?"

We used to stand on the corner and I would sing like Smokey Robinson. And then we'd run off to the park, up to the high school for basketball, or just play football in the streets and make believe we were Joe "The Jet" Perry or Alan Ameche or "Alley Oop" Owens.

And then it was home. You'd come up the steps into the living room, with the kitchen next to it and one tiny bathroom for all seven of us. Next was the dining room and then the hallway leading to the bedrooms, with a large, tall heater, heating the whole house. Back to the left was my parents' room, to the right was the room my sister and my youngest brother shared. You'd have to go through their room to get to what would have been the sun porch -- but instead was the older boys' room, three of us in there, me and my two other brothers. That was my room, but it wasn't my own place, and with all that activity, inside and out, sometimes you just needed a place of your own, you know?

The room I cared about most wasn't a room at all; it was the space between the dining room and the bedrooms. I always found myself getting up in the middle of the night just to stretch out in front of the heater and create a space for myself. My mother used to wake up for work and find me there. In between washing dishes, I would lay there. In between doing homework -- when I did my homework -- I would lay there. It was my sleeping space and my day-dreaming space -- you know, where you'd dream about the girl you liked who hasn't said two words to you in the two months since you've been liking her.

It was just my space. That's what home is, after all. A place to call your own, to take care of, to grow in, in the company of the people and the things you love.


Hometown: San Francisco, California

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