A few nights ago, while picking my daughter up from a friend’s house, I discovered something shocking. Heartbreaking. It looks like my childhood home will be torn to the ground soon, to make room for more college housing. I grew up next door to my husband’s grandma, and her house is already gone. The beautiful old rock home on the other side of my house is also getting ready to be leveled too. I used to babysit in that house, years ago. It is a stunning piece of history, that is nothing more than an obstacle standing in the way of land developers. The neighborhoods that I played in as a kid are rapidly vanishing, being replaced with massive apartment complexes and parking structures.
Our home was built in 1940, a charming old stucco house with hardwood floors, arched doorways, and plaster walls. I was 6 years old when we moved in. The house was painted pink, pepto pink, and my moms first order of business was to change that. My dad pressure washed the pink paint off, and a gentle buttercream yellow was sprayed on in it's place. The home belonged to an elderly lady named Mrs. Arnold before we moved in. She died in the house 6 months before we arrived. Frequently, when I would come home from school, I would see her sitting in the window of the living room, watching over us. She felt like a grandma, keeping an eye of all of the kids.
I want to fight the decimation of my home, my neighborhood, to protest, to chain myself to the lovely Quaking Aspen that my dad planted so many years ago in the front yard, or camp out under the carport where we played basketball every night, for so many years. I could hold a sit-in in the bedroom that my sister Kara and I shared forever. I could refuse to leave the living room that my sister Kristi and I practiced our clarinets for hours on end. We could sit in the tiny dining room that we shared so many happy moments in with our parents and lock elbows. I want to walk down those stairs that we used to slide down on sleds a few more times, and wonder how we managed not to break any bones. I want to lay on the floor in my parents’ bedroom and remember how many nights I was consoled there after a nightmare, as I was prone to having. I want to sneak into the closet full of hobo spiders that we would peek into boxes and bags of unwrapped Christmas gifts. I want to sneak out under the giant old Weeping Willow tree in the backyard and kiss my husband, the way we used to do when we were teenagers. I want to climb up into the old attic that we used to play in for hours, listening to our mom's Woodstock album and trying on her old hippie clothes.
I know that it is just a house, a house I have not lived in since I was 19. I know that my memories are eternal, but I can’t believe how much this hurts. My sisters and I have grieved anew this week, like we are losing our parents all over again. We are going over to the house soon, to see if we can arrange a walk through. I want to share it with my kids. I want my kids to realize how precious these days, their childhoods, are. I want them to remember to savor the moments that we share, to seal them into their memories. And I need to remember that even through my grief; life is sweeter than it is bitter. It wouldn’t hurt so much if we didn’t love so much. And I would never trade that, for anything.