July 23, 2011

House that Grew Me

Mom's back with a post about going home again. Enjoy!

They say you can never go home. I agree.
Two months ago, we drove by and saw the old home place was for sale. We knew it was in rough shape. But the draw of “home” had us stop to look around. One of the neighbors saw us snooping, and politely came out to inform us the last owners had been evicted after a cocaine raid. We winced; then we called the realtor.
Here’s your sign! If the dang thing is torn halfway off the post, you might want to consider your redneck status or lack thereof. I don’t know what category we fall into, but we actually got nostalgic thinking about going through the house. Well, technically it’s my husband’s; I adopted it when my parent’s home burned down in 2001.
Two days later we met the real estate agent at the property. The screen door almost fell off when she opened it. To our dismay there were six bolts and locks running down the doorframe. Luckily she only had to open the top one. She said the previous owner couldn’t afford a security system. We still didn’t bite, only anticipation was mounting. It had been 16 years since we’d stepped over the threshold.
While waiting, I thought I heard children playing cowboys and Indians and dogs running after them, barking their fool heads off. I closed my eyes, and I heard the old rooster crowing, wanting to get in on the action. The creaking of rockers and the scratchy rub of the metal chain on the porch swing sounded as real as real can get.  
The door finally opened with a thud, ending my daydreaming. The living room was dark, dank and smelled like urine and distilled liquor. As my eyes adjusted to the faint light, I stood dumbstruck. The plaster had been torn off in wide, gaping sheets; the overhead light fixtures were missing, wires dangled, splayed in several directions. This was not a pretty sight. My mother-in-law, Miss Daisy Mae, would have had one hell of a hissy fit over the mess before me.
I touched my husband’s shoulder. I couldn’t imagine the pain of seeing my home destroyed. This was the home he had been born in, learned to walk through and grew up within its meager space. I could see him looking around; his eyes stopping every once and awhile in one spot. One was the area where the kitchen table used to be. I remember seeing him spread out his homework and watch Ed Sullivan or Maverick with his folks.  
We didn’t waste a lot of time looking around. The home had died. All the love poured into it had stopped when the older members died or went into the nursing home. Sadness filled our ride home. Words sat between us, crying.
The whole affair made me stop and reflect. We really can’t go home. But then again, it’s not about a home at the end of the day; it’s about the people we love that also grew up in the home or the many people who visited – friends, extended family, the pastor and the doctor who delivered several of the children in the front bedroom. A structure is temporal; building and keeping relationships are forever.


When I read Mom's piece, I was sad remembering the place I visited my grandparents as a young kid. A family grew me. I barely remember any details of structures. I've never been in the same house for more than four years (and that record I just set in Colorado) my whole life. And I'm happy to say, since a family grew me, I can go home anytime, and I do!

Can you go home again?


Kate @ Teaching What Is Good said...

No. Because although our memories are suspended in time, we have changed and home has changed. I went back this past fall for my 35th high school reunion. It was hard seeing folks I hadn't seen in so many years and realizing 1) I was no longer the person they knew and 2) I didn't know them at all. Then I drove through my old town (none of my family lived there anymore) and sat in my car outside my old house and sobbed! It was all so different.

No, I don't think you can go back. So I won't return but I'll keep my memories as a keepsake.

Ali Bierman said...

While i would not want to go home again, I occasionally like to drive by the house where I grew up. Being 2500 miles away, I rarely get there. The new owners changed the yard and replaced the upstairs sundeck with an enlarged bedroom. I doubt I'd even want to go inside. The feel is too different.
Anyway, as my son taught me, memories live in your heart. I hold them dear.

Lori Ferguson said...

I 'visit' home everytime we travel back to our birth city. (Rob & I & and kids were born in the same hospital in the same city)

When we go back for a visit, I drive by the 3 places we lived - just to remind myself of the good memories.

We've been blessed that none of the places have changed too much in the 10 years we've been gone... What it's taught me is that all things are for a time. Enjoy the time you're there.

Pamela Mason said...

My house was flooded by Hurricane Katrina but still stands, renovated and restructured for the new owners. But Mr.Frank's house next door no longer exists; it's a slab. My friend Camille's house had the black 'X' of demolition sprayed everywhere... the Couvillions', the Jacksons'... all gone. My old neighborhood is like another planet- some homes crooked & awaiting the bulldozer right next to slabs of six foot tall weeds, then pristine, immaculate houses with manicured yards and zinnias four feet away. Surreal.
My husband just sold his mother's home-- his mom, who traveled the world and remarried at the age of 75, is now silent with Alzheimer's. We emptied best we could, but so much had been hoarded-- receipts from the 70's, photos, travel souvenirs. It wasn't possible to keep it all, distribute it all... so much went to waste.
But the memories lingered that last day inside.
I hope the new families who have our old homes are making new memories to keep those walls standing a little longer.
Thanks for the bittersweet nostalgia.

Tia Bach said...

Pamela, Thanks for stopping by. I can't imagine the Hurricane Katrina devastation. My heart goes out to you, and everyone who lost their homes, and worse, their loved ones.

Kate, It's hard. I'm somewhat thankful that I don't have a structure to visit, only my memories and the people I love.

Ali, Your son is sweet and very smart!

Lori, Glad you get to go back and relive memories.

Thanks to everyone for stopping by.

PeggyLee Hanson said...

Beautiful and bittersweet, Tia.

Tia Bach said...

Thanks, Peggy Lee. I'll pass it on to Mom, she'll love it!

Anonymous said...

Thank you all for joining me on a sad memory walk. Maybe we can't go home, but we can slow down in our busy lives and reflect. It was a tremendous reminder to me to cherish family, friends, and memories. I praise God for gifting me so much, even the structures we grew up in that allowed us to laugh and love within its walls.

Angela Silverthorne

bookworm said...

I can't go home. The neighborhood I grew up in is a slum (northeast Bronx). The apartment building I grew up in still stands but I would never dare set foot in it. With that background I feel for Pamela. So sad....at least I can still visit my neighborhood virtually through Google Earth.

Tia Bach said...

Alana, This post was hard. For me, home is a frame of a mind and not a frame. I envy people who have many memories wrapped in one home, but then I hear about your experience (and Pamela's). I can't imagine having that home devastated in some way. It is truly sad.

Thanks for stopping by to share!