A Step Back in Time
Last week the girls had three days off for the New Jersey teacher’s convention. It had been ages since we had visited my mom in Rhode Island so we headed up for a visit. We did lots of fun things but one of the most interesting for me was a trip to the house we lived in from the time I was three until a bit after my sixteenth birthday. I have not been back since the day we left.
When we moved from Long Island to Rhode Island in 1976, we rented a house on the property of St. Mary’s Home for Children, my mother’s place of work. We planned to stay for six months until we found a permanent home but we remained there for thirteen years. The house was built in the 1700s so it was full of cool features like winding staircases and fireplaces in nearly every room. When we left, St. Mary’s converted the house into offices so I knew that the space would look different.
I’m not sure though that I was totally prepared for how different but yet how similar it would be.
For example, here is my bedroom.
But at the same time, so many things were exactly the same. I learned that St. Mary’s has gone through very difficult financial times since we left so there have been next to no updates to the house. The sink and tub in my bathroom were exactly the same. The counter tops and appliances in the kitchen were the ones I remembered from my childhood. The popcorn ceilings that scraped my knuckles more than once were exactly as I remembered.
When the girls want to interrupt a conversation, they’ll often shout out “Pause!” as if the person they are talking to is a television show. I think I am going to opt to push the pause button on my memories of my childhood home and keep it just the way it was. Because in some ways, during our visit, I felt like a cliche. I always thought our entry way was grand. In truth, it was tiny. I always thought our kitchen was spacious. It was not. I am glad we went back. It was fun for the girls to see where I lived when I was their ages. That said, though, I think I am going to keep my memories as they were before. Before we saw my living room full of desks and my play room housing the computer server. I think am going to go ahead and push the pause button.
I love this. I know just what you mean, about how different our memories prove to be from the reality, when we revisit a place as adults. I live a mile from my childhood home and when I walk by, every single time, I’m struck by how it’s not how I remember. Like you, I prefer my memories. xox
Wow! What an experience to be so close to your childhood home. Before we moved to NJ we looked at houses in Providence and it felt so strange. Jobs dictated where we ended up but I often wonder what it would have been like to be so close to my old house…
I’ve done this twice with two childhood homes now, one in upstate NY and the other house in MA where I grew up during middle/high school (which my mom sold after her divorce). It’s just like you say, especially as to my first house; the house is way less grand than what I recall in my mind. For the second house though, I my reaction was more along the lines of “Hey! Why’d they put that bay window in and that black trim looks awful! That’s *our* house!” It’s somewhat hard not to take personally the changing of a physical place that contains your past, at least for me, silly as it seems.
Kristen- It’s so true. The houses will always be ‘ours’ in a way, won’t they?
How wonderful you got to visit and at least some is the same. Last summer, I took my family to the Northwoods resort I went to as a child and everything was the same–they purposely, because so many children come back as adults, didn’t change a thing. Even the swing set had the same horse swing, which they reproduced when the old one wore out. It was perfect.
What a cool experience to re-live those summer memories with your family! Super fun!
I don’t blame you for wanting to push pause on the memories. It was jarring for me to see the home I lived in from age 6 mos. to 16 painted a different color. I can’t image seeing it as an office. I’ve often wondered how my kids will see our house when they are adults. I just want to make sure they have tons of good memories in this space!
Shana- It was really, really weird. Weirder than I had thought it would be. It is funny to think what our kids will think. We are now in our third house so I wonder if the girls will have any memories of their first house- they were so little when we moved.
Hit that pause button, we are so lucky to be able to do that. I can imagine how wonderful it would be to visit, but on the same hand to see all the changes. Pause is good. My parents still live in my childhood home, there have been lots of changes since I left 18 years ago, but not nearly as many as you found, and even with the changes it still feels like home 🙂
How great that your parents are still in their house. I feel like that is so rare these days!
I love old homes so very much. I like that you were able to visit and I most like your pause idea. Because I totally know what you mean when you say your child memory of the big kitchen and spacious entry. Those are the best kind of memories that should be paused.