Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Childhood Homeless

My husband is losing his first home. The home he grew up in is being sold. The home that his mother died in will no longer be available to him to visit whenever he wants. And until last night I didn't really grasp what this meant to him.

I have tried consoling him with the reality that the house is just a thing, and that no one can take the memories that he has away from him.

But I realize now that no matter what memories he will retain, it will not be the same as being able to walk the halls of his childhood home and relive what he once knew by seeing and feeling.

Maybe because the house I grew up in no longer exists--it was torn down to make room for the big ugly GM plant that has overtaken Silver Bell Rd, I did not really understand, but as I gave it more thought, I understand his sorrow much better...though the progression to my childhood home's disappearance was slower and much more systematic.

And as I thought back on my own tumultuous memories, I remembered when the announcement came that they were going to put the GM plant across the street from our house...taking away the corn fields and the little airport. I remember the sound of cessna's in the afternoon being replaced by huge lumbering trucks, and the squeak of their brakes as they entered the large gated entrance with their supplies.

I remember the tiny dirt road becoming a 5 laned paved monster, completely unsafe for bike riding. But that was a long time ago, and now the house doesn't even exist.

Not that it was much of a house. It was falling apart from the inside out. I hated living there. I was ashamed to bring my friends inside as it displayed our apparent poverty. It didn't matter how clean the house was, it was still depressing and dark inside.

But it was where I lived. Where I learned to fear the dark. Where I learned to distrust grown ups. It is where I lost a dog, a kitten and a bunny-all died tragically. Where I received most of my wounds, physically and emotionally, and at times was my prison.

It was also the place where I learned to ride my bike. Appreciate the smell of lilacs and the taste of fresh raspberries off the bush. It was the place where I had a tree to climb, and hiding spots in the barns where I wasn't suppose to go.

It was where I was educated by Stephen King in the hot summer heat up in the un air conditioned attic. Where no one could find me reading away the summer days, devouring the forbidden knowledge on those pages.

My first boyfriend carved our names in the window pane of the shed, and he rode his bike 10 miles to my house to leave love notes taped to my window for me to find in the morning when I woke up to go to school--

For 11 years my bus stop was at that address. An address I can barely recall.

For as much as I wanted to get away from that place, and never claim it as my own, I now wish that I could go there and show my children where I grew up...maybe then they would have a better understanding of why I am so adamant about taking care of what we have, and keeping our living space clean.

And even if they didn't get that message, at least they could see where their mother spent her summer days when she was their age. Catching baby frogs, finding salamandars in the sand box, or looking for antique treasures in the barns.

The house was gone by the time I moved back to Michigan. In fact it was demolished the summer before I returned. I went back to that spot, and it was strange seeing just the trees there, without the house and the barns that I had been my childhood bane and joy, and the subject of many of my adult nightmares.

Not too long ago I shared with a friend one of my favorite childhood memories of how hot air balloons would land on our property, because we had enough clear open acreage. I would run out to the balloon as it touched down, waving and laughing. I loved balloon season, I still do.

I wouldn't have that memory had it not been for that shabby white farmhouse and the land that stretched out around it.

So tonight I decided that we should go take photos of his house, and various things inside of it, like the curtains that his mother made, or the blue and white tiles around the kitchen sink. Because some day those things will not be there. And he may forget those little details that as a child he took for granted.

However, I am positive that he will not forget the many good memories that he has from that place. Memories of Lesters, and Legos...of yelling insults at his brother from the front porch or his mom caring for him when he was sick...and sewing for him when he became interested in re enactment events...

...and the many other things that he has told me about. Those stories are still alive inside of him. Ready to be retold, relived and reloved whenever he wants.

My opportunity for salvaging such memorabelia is long gone, I'll have to reseort to rummaging through old photos to see if any of them are of my childhood home. And hopefully someday I will be able to talk about my childhood with much more fondness than I have been able to in past years.

Childhood homes are a hard thing to lose. But somehow they manage to live on in your imagination...taking on a glamour of their own the older that you become...regardless of how shabby or depressing they once were...maybe that is because no matter what your childhood was, good or bad,it is something that you can never get back.


At 14:09, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i will miss this house sooo much too. it is going to be hard not going to that house that grew up in for 16 1/2 years

At 11:37, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am really sorry that you husband is going through this. It must be hard, especially because of all the memories in the house. I went through losing a childhood home also, and it is not easy. Send your best to your husband and your father in law for me.



Post a Comment

<< Home