A few years ago I wrote here about how my dad sold the house that my brother and I grew up in.
It was sad. There were so many memories there.
Recently, I was in Hatfield with my brother and sister and we decided on a whim to stop by the house my parents had owned for more than 30 years. I guess I wanted to see how it was doing since it had been such a big part of my life for so long.
As I wrote in my previous post about the house, I thought (or maybe it was wishful thinking) that a young family had moved in and that the kids went to the elementary school Doug and I attended. I pictured them living their lives there there like we had.
But that wasn’t the case.
The couple who bought it are unfortunately going through a divorce. The guy lives there, and one of the kids was there but he appeared to be visiting.
It looked like there were half-finished home improvement projects all over the place. And they bought the house in 2013.
The front room and dining room were full of kids’ toys, no furniture. The family room (a.k.a. den) and kitchen were the only usable spaces downstairs.
The garage reeked of cigarettes, and so did the rest of the house.
My parents would have died (well, if they weren’t already dead, I guess.)
The guy was polite enough to let us in, but it felt weird. He seemed embarrassed. He would’t let us upstairs because he said it was a mess.
To his credit, he allowed three strangers inside his home with no notice, so I’m not condemning him. And perhaps it’s unfair to snark on him when I don’t really know him or what he’s dealing with in life. It’s his house and he can do what he wants with it. It’s just disappointing that he hasn’t been keeping it up like my parents had.
The biggest letdown was that he ripped out all of my parents’ landscaping in the front and in the back, plus he cut down a tree. He said they were overgrown, so why not trim it or hire someone to do so?
My mom and dad were so proud of that yard. Now it just looks trashy, like nobody gives a crap. They’d would be upset.
As we walked around, Doug kept hugging me, happy to be back in his old home, and even tried to get into the basement. He still remembered how to work the lock on the door that my dad had installed.
There were some little things that made us happy, though, like seeing that the guy did not take down the Blessed Virgin Mary picture that my mom, ever the Catholic, had thumb-tacked above the laundry room door. The cool light fixture I always liked still hung in the hall.
And the 1960s-era metallic green bike with the banana seat that belonged to one of my sisters was still hanging up in the garage. I used that bike, too, and the kids in the neighborhood called it “The Green Machine.” He told us we could take it if we wanted, but we didn’t.
That night, I couldn’t sleep. I kind of feel like it was a mistake to go back to the house. Maybe it would’ve been better if I kept on believing that the new owner was taking good care of it.
But still, it did feel good to be in there again. Just like seeing a dead loved one in a casket doesn’t have to affect how you remembered them when they were alive, this doesn’t impact my memories of the house.
I feel like the house is an old friend who has fallen on hard times and you want to help them, but there’s nothing you can really do. So you just hope for the best and wish them well.
Have you ever gone back to visit a place that was once important to you and found it nothing like you’d pictured?
Yeah, I haven’t written here in a year and a half. I stopped because I pretty much said all I wanted to say at the time. And with all that’s been happening in our country, it would not have felt right for me to continue writing about myself here when there are far more important things for people to read on the internet right now, like this! I don’t know if I’ll continue. But if you’ve gotten this far, thanks for reading.