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.