Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Sometimes you can't go home again

Part of going out to the desert Sunday involved going by the house where I lived for most of my childhood.

The first picture is the street (road) where we lived.

Now, the place never was anything fancy and it has been deteriorating for years since my parents left the place to take care of my grandmother after my grandfather died more than 10 years ago.

But it was still a bit shocking to see it reduced to studs.

At the time we lived in the house, there was a little more to it. There is still a slab where the back bedroom used to be.

That was the room that I shared with my sister for pretty much my entire childhood. That room is gone now, with just the old bath tub and some new metal awning thing sitting on the slab.

There are stacks of slate sitting under covers behind the house, so it looks like someone has something planned for it. But it doesn't look like any work has been done recently.

Another change is a new post-and-rail fence with some heavy iron gates at each end of the circular driveway.

The giant Joshua tree that was at the side of the house is still there, but the pavers that my dad

put in to make a patio are pulled up and stacked near the tree.

The funniest thing was seeing some old orange folding chairs were still there.

They reminded me of the day my sister thought it would be fun to jump from chair to chair. It was all great until one of the folding chairs folded up with her on it and she fell and broke her collar bone.

It's weird to think about growing up here.

We definitely were not rich or even well-off. But I never really felt poor as a little kid. Of course, as I got older I realized we didn't have as much money as some of my friends' families.

But we never went hungry or anything like that.

Looking back, there were sacrifices my parents made so my sister and I could have things like new basketball shoes or a new dress for a dance. But those things usually were bought on sale.

My mom also was a great seamstress and made a lot of clothes for us. She also was and is a great cook and knew how to turn mundane ground beef into some tasty concoctions.

I can see now that we did struggle, but I have to give my parents a lot of credit for giving my sister and me a good, happy childhood.

They did a great job raising us in circumstances that had to be difficult at times.

My dad died about six years ago at age 52, and my mom moved down to the L.A. area to be closer to my sister and me after my paternal grandmother died last year.

It is good to have her nearby and, now that she is here and my sister is here with her family and various aunts and uncles and cousins and my maternal grandmother are here, the South Bay really feels like home.

But there will always be something about the desert that makes me want to go back for a visit.

Just maybe not in August next time.


Ninja Of The Mundane said...

I think I understand the feeling. I don't like to look at my childhood home very often, but sometimes I feel a strange lunar pull anyway. It's both disquieting and satisfying all at the same time. Too many ghosts stirring in the spaces I stand, too many sepia-toned memories of people I used to be.

Mandy said...

My parents still live in my childhood home, only a few blocks from where I live now. I can't say I understand. But my mom is currently wrestling with selling her childhood home, and it's very tough for her. I wonder if it will be the same for me.

Jill said...

I think part of it is that my childhood home is so different than where I live now.
Not that I live in a palace now. Not by any means.
But there were a lot of good memories in that place, despite any of the lean times.
So I continue to make a yearly pilgrimage.
And beyond the house, there is the desert.
The desert is such a strange place, and I loathed it when I was in my teens.
Now I can appreciate the strangeness of its beauty.
It's better in the spring when the flowers are in bloom. And it isn't 105 degrees in the shade.
I think I may try to get out there in April or May of next year to see that again.

Tammie Jean said...

That looks like a beautiful place to grow up. I grew up in an entirely different kind of place, a small apartment near a river in New York. To me, going back and seeing that apartment building is kind of weird, but the river always feels like home.

Jill said...

I know what you mean about the weirdness. Because that is not the house I grew up in anymore.
But that place, that piece of land, that big-ass Joshua tree.
It brings so much back as soon as I turn on that road.
I love that the house is essentially gone, but that tree just keeps getting bigger and bigger.