What Was, Was

Yesterday I ran into a childhood friend I have not seen in 40 years. We grew up near each other and went to elementary through high school together. It was nice to see her and we caught each other up on what we have been doing in our lives and where we now lived. I still live in the town I grew up in, just a few blocks from where my childhood home stood. She told me her parents sold the home she had grown up in, and the new owners tore it down and built something new, much to her chagrin. She commented on how awful that was, how the feeling of the neighborhood had changed. I listened and smiled and said my childhood home had also been razed, but stopped there rather than share what I was really thinking.

My town is filled with tree lined streets, lined with houses built in the 1920’s and 30’s. Many Tudor style homes, as the one I live in built in 1932. Many are still beautiful on the outside, but on the inside hold another story. No master bathrooms, tiny bedrooms, old kitchens without dishwashers and scarred linoleum tile. Our kitchen was decorated with yellow formica from the 1970’s when we moved in, and a gas stove you lit with a match. I set out to replacing it a few years after we moved in, but for many replacing is not worth it, a total “redo” will work better. I grew up in a home with no master bathroom, 4 kids and 2 adults shared the bathroom, but that is not something I would choose to do today. Some people have no interest in the charm others see in older homes, especially when they can turn into a money pit. Part of me understood where this friend was coming from on an emotional level- her childhood home with her memories was no longer standing, but is it the actual house that holds those memories or are they still safe inside her, with her forever?

I knocked on the door of the home I grew up in some years after my mother sold it. I was invited to come in and look around. As I walked through the entry hall I got all choked up- it was as if I had stepped into a time warp, literally crossed the threshold into the past. I was surprised at my reaction, pictures flooding my mind of coming through those entry doors for most of my life. Some things within the house had changed, some remained the same. It still felt familiar on some level. A few years later the house was sold again and torn down- it was sad to actually witness the tractors doing their demolishing, but it didn’t really matter to me. The destruction did not destroy what I held inside.

Neighborhoods change, old replaced with new, many of the new homes in town built to look old blending in with overall feeling of the neighborhood. They are much larger and grander, they hold kitchens with granite counter tops and islands, “great” rooms off those kitchens, because that is how today’s families live. Time moves on, things change. The actual physical demolition of something does not have to mean it is demolishing what we can hold dear to us inside is how I view it. sender house

17 thoughts on “What Was, Was

  1. I think eventually most of us reach that stage where we look back with nostalgia and sometimes a sense of loss for what isn’t there anymore.
    My childhood home was torn down and replaced several years ago. Perhaps I would feel differently if I lived in the same town, but it doesn’t bother me that it’s gone. As you said, the memories are still there and I have a few photographs. The house itself was never special in any way …it was the people and the laughter over the years around the kitchen table that I remember.

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  2. Your photograph of your husband and two dogs, with the pretty home and weeping cherry blossom tree is lovely. I like the tan tile (bricks) around the doorway, too. Moving forward with memories firmly in place is understandable, Lisa. “No one can take them away,” as an old song goes. 🙂

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  3. Nice post, Lisa. I think sometimes people hold out hope they can always go back and visit their old home. Walk in as you did. Then they find its been demolished and that possibility no longer exists. I feel bad for them but as you say, time move on and our memories will always be our memories of another time.

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    • It’s funny how the nostalgia sets in when we think of where we grew up, I remember when my mother first talked about selling the house I was in disbelief. After not having lived there for many years it began to matter less I think

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  4. I agree, Lisa. It’s not the building materials that matter ~ it’s the memories we’ll cherish forever.

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  5. Have owned more than one money pit over the years, I’m not sentimental about old houses anymore. I love seeing what other people do in restoring them, but I remember them as poorly designed, inadequately heated, with bad plumbing and wiring. Memories are, as you point out, often best remembered rather than relived!

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  6. So true, the memories are in our heart and we take them with us wherever we go. I find old houses charming, but I agree with you, many don’t fit into our times anymore and a total do-over is mostly cheaper than a renovation.

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  7. my parents moved into the house I grew up after my grandparents passed and I feel different about the house now… my mom tried to made it to her house and instead to fall into the arms of my granny I stumble over a life sized sheep figure or run into a flower arrangement … we both know that her idea to keep it as the place it was once failed, but maybe time will make it to our place again…

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  8. Beautiful way to look at this, Lisa. Our memories are safely tucked inside us. Memories from the 1960’s I cherish are always there when I need a cheer. xx

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