A little while ago, my mother finally sold her house, the house she had lived in for almost forty years, the house I and my siblings all grew up in. Living in a neighboring state, I wasn’t there much for the moving process though I did make a few visits to help with the inevitable junk-clearing that happens with any move. A lot of stuff piles up as the decades wear on.
My last visit to the house was about two or three weeks before the closing and moveout. It was surreal to see most of the house emptied and packed up in boxes. Another creeping realization occurred as we drove to pick up lunch at the nearby Portillos, it was the thought that I would soon never see not only the house again, but this place, this neighborhood that I spent so much time in.
We grew up on the very outskirts of the city, practically suburbia. We were close to the airport so the sound of planes flying low overhead were such a common sound that it was hardly noticable growing up. Although, in the years since I left, it seems the disturbances from airborne activity had grown substantially, so much so that the city was offering to install soundproof windows to all the houses in the surrounding neighborhoods.
It was a nice quiet neighborhood, a mix of small seventies’ style ranch houses and remodled mini-mcmansions. When I would ride my bike as an adolescense, I soon learned that the further north and west I rode, the bigger the houses and yards became. And though I would never say we grew up poor, as the years went on, it became clear that many of our neighbors were more well off than we were.
Of course, there’s nothing stopping me from revisiting my childhood stomping grounds. Nothing propeling me neither. Is there value in visiting a place for sentimental value itself? Of course there is. But to be perfectly honest, my childhood home has at least as many bad memoires as good.
More to the point, we can’t always spend our lives in one place. Sure, some of us do and there’s nothing wrong with that. But for many people, at some point in their lives, they will move on from certain places throughout their lives. Be it from a house, from a job, from a city, from a state or even a country. For some, it is inevitable.
And as the years go by and we leave these places behind, some will be left behind without us ever realizing that they’ve been seen for the last time. That we’ve stepped across sacred ground never to be tread upon ever again.
I’m not really sure what point I’m trying to make. It’s not the first time I’ve left somewhere with which I’ve had a heavy emotional (positive or negative) bond. But my mother’s house is without doubt the one section of the planet on which I’ve spent the most amount of my life upon. So it’s weird.
And I think about the places I live and work now, the places that are important to me today in my everyday life. I think about how one day, this place and this town will be a distant memory. And when that day comes and passes, I know I won’t ever have cause to travel down these roads ever again.
It doesn’t quite make me sad but it fills me with a strange pre-emptive wistfulness. And I like to wonder, at the end of my life, how many places will number the list of all the places I’ll never see again.
I hope there are many.