My mom is selling the house I grew up in. It is a good thing really...The house is old; it needs remodeled again and of course my mom needs to move forward. A house full of 35 years worth of memories has got to be hard to live in now, without my dad. But that it is really happening has been a hard pill for me to swallow this summer. And it is happening...the yard sale is over, the furniture is in storage, the new condo has been purchased. My mom should be all settled in her new place before I even return to work from maternity leave.
I haven't been there much since my mom started packing things up. I always thought I would be helping with a task so huge, but having a newborn has made that impossible. It is probably a good thing actually, because I don't think I could've done it. The few times I have been over since the furniture was moved out have been hard. I am the kind of person who holds tight to objects with some sort of memory connected to them. I found a ratty old poster, a topographic map of the Pacific Northwest, sitting by the stairs when I went over last week. I'd completely forgotten about it until I saw it. The poster hung in my dorm room freshman year of college. I have always loved maps and I was really proud of it...I think I actually bought it at a map specialty store in high school on one of our visits to Tacoma, Wa. My dad and I took it to Long's Bookstore and he got it matted and attached to foam core for me. It's a small memory which is probably why I completely forgot about all of it: the poster, that it hung in my dorm room, the connection to my dad...all of it, until I saw it in a pile of random stuff ready to be tossed out or moved. It got me wondering...what else have I completely forgotten about?
To me, that is what makes it so hard to see my childhood home emptied out. I am afraid of what I'll forget.
When I was 12 or 13 my dad took me by his childhood home. My dad grew up here in Columbus, but I'd never seen the house before then. It was a half double and I don't think his father ever even owned the place. We didn't go inside, we just drove by because it wasn't in the best neighborhood anymore, even back then. It was probably a Saturday afternoon and it was just the two of us. We had gone down to the old Schottensteins store in the south end of Columbus (which isn't there any longer) and for some reason my dad decided to take me by his old house. I don't remember much else about that day. I don't remember what we talked about, I just remember finding it so fascinating, even at that young age, to see the house where my dad grew up and I have never forgotten it. I don't think he had seen the house in many years either and I wonder what prompted him to take me by it on that particular afternoon.
About 5 years ago I decided to drive by the house again. I loosely remembered where it was, right off Main St by the old Rosary Catholic Church and School. The house was abandoned and boarded up and the street was really depressed, but I still felt transfixed by it and tried to imagine a different neighborhood. I tried to picture my dad living in the house as a child, wondering what he was like back then. He never did talk much about being a kid and there are few photographs of him as a child, so picturing him as one has always been tough on my imagination.
I have no doubt I will take Eliza by my childhood home someday. I will tell her she was inside it when she was just an itty bitty baby. When we do visit, I will very likely be so bold as to even knock on the door and ask for a tour too. Although it saddens me she won't know the house or get to spend the night in it, deep down I know the stories I tell her will still help create something for her, just like when my dad took me by his old house. I also know that without us, without my mom and my dad, my brother and I, it is already a different house. Where it really exists is in our memories. No one really needs to live there to keep that alive. I still can't help but worry that there are more memories trapped inside the french doors, or the built in book cases, or my old bedroom, but I guess I'll have to take what I can get. Those lost memories will just have to haunt the place!