Thursday, November 03, 2005

Home, But Not

This past weekend I had an unusual experience I had been dreaming about for months.

I crossed over the threshold of my home.

The lighting fixtures were the same, and the powder room (does your mom call it that, too?) was in the familiar spot, but there was hardwood where there had once been carpet and the wallpaper was unfamiliar.

I think I was secretly harboring a wish that the moment I entered 8757 Appleseed Drive I would be transported back to a time when I was more innocent, my parents were younger and we were all closer.

My childhood home is on the market in Cincinnati. It has been for several months now (from back in April? May?) and I have long wished for a chance to see the place where Kate began. My parents built the subdivision home (I think it was one of seven floorplans offered; ours was called the Evergreen) back in 1982 when I was six years old. We moved there from the arctic cool (both in respect to the weather and our nearby relatives) of Minneapolis for a job transfer and the dreams of a happy home.

And happy it was.

Sunday, I stepped across the threshold and half hoped the door swung wide open would reveal three little girls dancing around their father as he hung the highest of Christmas ornaments. Or a mom painstakingly seasoning (yes, painstakingly) the pumpkin seeds freshly scooped out of the family of gourds waiting eagerly for darkness on the front porch.

But no. My visions of the past came to a screeching halt when I was smacked in the face by the unfamiliar, less attractive (I suppose I'm biased) changes of today. Beautiful, antique looking bathroom mirrors were replaced by something you'd find in the halls at Wal-mart. My mom's special wainscoting in the dining room was still up, but her impeccable color choice of Wedgwood blue had been replaced by the most drab of institutional white.

To be honest, I'm pretty surprised I didn't cry when making it to my old bedroom.

The haven of my youth, the one spot I felt free and safe and hidden from the realities of growing up had been turned into a trashy jungle. My azure blue paint and beautiful Laura Ashley border (Simplicity on paper, I tell you. It featured blue and white ribbons with little olive branches here and there.) Had been replaced by what I like to call Simba In A Strip Bar. All over leopard print wallpaper with a border running about waist high with a big, pink flower print. Just hideous. It kind of hurt me to see the once shrine of my childhood, the spot where I used to hide under my covers with a flashlight and my Nancy Drews, turned into such an ugly spot.

And by the way, why the hell would someone take the two sliding closet doors off the track? Who wants their closet so out in the open?

I can't even do the description to my sister's room justice. It was something of a cross between a space ship landing and and acid trip. It even had metal tubing across the top of the window, to act as a kind of valance for the curtains. Hideous times two.

I can only guess two children slept in these respective rooms, and while I imagine they had pleasant times in their little creative havens, the unique decorating choices are going to have to be tamed down if they want to move that house (like I said, it's been on the market since Spring).

Looking back on it, I was glad I got to go back to the old house, even if for the chance to see some truly, uh, creative decorating techniques. Honestly though, it wasn't like going back to my old house. It was like checking out a house that had a similar floor plan.

Before I left, I looked one last, long look out the back window to a now overgrown hill that was once our sledding spot. I remember my Dad and my sister and I playing Train out there with our sleds, working up a good sweat before coming in to cocoa and homemade cookies.

I said goodbye to the foursquare of concrete in the driveway where I used to play ball, where I learned to ride my bike, where I used to collect lightning bugs, where I had my first kiss.

I glanced at the bush in the front yard I dented when I tried to sit on it after a snowstorm (the dent has somehow filled out), and the two trees I helped my dad plant when I was nine or ten, two trees that now tower over the front yard.

It was a very Grovers Corners moment in my life, no doubt. At least in my version I know I get to make more memories somewhere else.

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