Tag Archives: House of Pain


Photograph by Jose Padua
I’m five, in 1962, jumping over
and over from the sofa to the rug
in our apartment on the second floor
at 19th and S Street, jumping
to the orchestral explosions at the end
of Tchaikovsky’s The Year 1812,
Festival Overture in E flat major
It’s not like twenty years later
when I’d hear the force of
Van Halen playing “Jump,”
or thirty years later
when I’d hear the House of Pain saying,
“Jump around, jump around, jump around,”
but I find out later that day that my jumping
has made the plaster on the ceiling
of the apartment below us—
where Eleanor (who, because of polio, walks
with leg braces and crutches) lives humbly, quietly,
no husband, no children, alone on the first floor—
collapse all around Eleanor while she’s trying
to relax with a cup of tea,
and for the first time in my life I know
what real guilt feels like.
So many times I’d looked out our apartment
window to see Eleanor limping
her way to the front door, holding
her crutches, making what to my
five year old mind were the most
awkward movements I’d ever seen
and now this happens.
But she doesn’t complain, just mentions it
this once, and I don’t get spanked,
and no one ever talks about it again,
and I don’t really think about it again myself,
until today,
trying to help my young son
learn to walk,
put one foot after the other,
his hands out in front of him,
as he takes a few steps,
leans down to the wood floor,
then crawls the rest of the way
to me.

-Jose Padua

Photograph by Jose Padua