My parents sold my childhood home – which was also my mother’s childhood home – eleven years ago, just a few months after my Grandma Abbie died. Whenever I watch a movie or TV show where a character comes home and stays in her old room, all frozen in time with high school posters and photos and awards, I get this slight lump in my throat because I’ll never have that again. Not that I would expect (or want) that my parents keep my room as some shrine to me had they stayed there, but the option to visit, to ask, “Hey, when did you guys take down the Aerosmith poster?” doesn’t exist.
It’s not even my old bedroom that gets to me: the kitchen counter where the rice cooker lived, the step down into the living room where I’d sit and pet the cat, the backyard where my grandma’s clotheslines once lined the backyard…it’s not ours anymore. And I know that if my parents were still there, things would change eventually, gradually. It would never be the same.
Lately I’ve been having dreams about my grandparents. Sometimes I’m a child, sometimes I’m 35, but one thing remains: we’re all still living in that same house. But details are off: the paint color in the living room is what it was after my Grandpa Frank died, or the furniture is what Ed and I have in our home now. There’s familiarity but it’s not quite right.
Of course I could never go back to what it was, even if the layout, wallpaper, everything stayed exactly as I remember. It will never be quite right because they’ll never be there again.