My childhood home has been vacant for the past three years, and recently I had a realtor friend of mine take me there. It was a weird, time warping experience.
I lived there from ages 6-14. What I remember from this experience was a collection of memories filled with community, grief, sadness, solidarity, joy and well all of the things. My house was white, the tiles were pink, the master bath had a jet tub, and it was two stories. There was a back yard, and my dad had built a swing set for me to play on where I spent many hours alone conjuring potions and sweet memories.
The road up to the house was over grown, uncomfortable and sad. I think I had this weird underlying expectations, at the same time had no expectations. The house itself had one large change, and other minimal changes. It was green on the outside with a purple door and the land surrounding was overgrown and changed (there were more outside changes than inside changes).
The person had rebuilt the back deck, added a hot tub and a door off of the back master bedroom. They had also taken out the swing set my dad had built, the garden beds, and planted trees where my dad’s RV use to live. My memories of the space though were so present, the nostalgia was there and then it hit me: I cannot get back any of it. It was gut wrenching.
I wasn’t really expecting to get any of that back by visiting there, or even by dancing with the idea that I could even buy the place.
What I did get out of it, was that no matter how sad I was there because my dad was so yelly, it was a reminder that he did do nice things for me. As an adult I value that swing set memory more than I ever had. I appreciate it more now because when I was a child I didn’t understand or value the time it took to him to build that swing set. At the time I was fairly selfish, and impatient. It was the one memory I had of him that didn’t include traveling, playing video games, or sourdough pancakes. It was the one thing he did that was outside of his comfort zone, it was something he did for me. In all that I’ve processed about my childhood, him doing nice things for me wasn’t something that I’ve been able to see.