Shelf Life Community Story Project
Amplifying community voices, learning from neighborhood stories, and interrupting narratives of erasure in Seattle's Central District.

What it Means to Come Home

Photo by Jill Freidberg

Photo by Jill Freidberg

Aretha Basu was born in Pennsylvania but grew up in Seattle's Central District from the age of five. She studies at the University of Washington Bothell. 

Aretha Basu

So I grew up right between the Odessa Brown Clinic and SVI, in the apartments between Jackson and Yesler. Growing up, this Red Apple was like the kick it spot for us. Every Friday my friends and I had this thing called Hot Cheeto Friday, where would like collect all of our money, and we’d come to this Red Apple, and we’d buy hot Cheetos, and then we’d go back to our apartment and climb the side of our building and sit on the roof and just start talking about boys and school and life and family stuff. And we’d eat like three bags of hot Cheetos every Friday. I lived on the middle floor, my first best friend lived on the first floor and the other one lived on the third floor. So whenever one of us needed like milk or eggs or like any type of grocery, we’d call each other up and be yeah, let’s run to Red Apple together. So we would like bust a mission and get side money to get candy or whatever we needed. They also sell the Mexican sweet breads, like we’d get those too and like eat them with our parents’ money, when they didn’t know about it.

Whenever I think of Seattle, whenever I think of home, like I think of this Red Apple. Like this Red Apple is what it means to come home for me. It feels like it’s the final blow for me. We’ve sustained blow after blow, like my apartment’s gone, my friends are gone, my family’s gone. The places I used to kick it at are not the same. Like my childhood feels like it’s closed, really. Because there’s clerks in there who’ve seen me since I was a young kid. They used to tease me about like all the candy that I was buying or like all the junk food that I was buying. Now I buy vegetables. And so I’m going to miss those people. It's going to be so devastating.