I don’t know why I answered the doorbell. I never do. Really. It’s always someone trying to sell me something—raffle tickets, candy bars, the salvation of Jesus Christ. But this time, I peeked out the window to see who might be there.
A father and son stood on my doorstep. I opened the window a tad, sounding annoyed, I’m sure: “I’m on a conference call right now. May I help you?”
The man looked at me apologetically, saying, “I grew up in this house.”
“I’ll be right out,” I said.
He needn’t have told me anything more. I got it then. I get it now. Anyone who has ever identified strongly with a place and time gets it.
Everyone wants to be able to go home again.
He lives outside of Philly. Decided it would be great to take his son—who was just a bit younger than mine—to the Cubs/Phillies game at Wrigley Field. They had taken in the game the day before—and he was feeling nostalgic. He wanted to show his son the house he remembered.
He wasn’t here for a lot of his childhood, ironically. Just a few years, before his parents bought a home in the “newer” part of town. “They always regretted that decision,” he shared. “They said they never should have moved from this house.” It was telling that he had no desire to show his son the other house or neighborhood. One was not like the other.
I’ve written before about how drawn I was to this house. To being part of a true neighborhood. This gentleman told me his parents have come back to see the old timers on my block a couple of times in the past decade—but they never had the gumption to knock on my door. That’s the kind of neighborhood I live in—the kind you want to come back to visit.
I loved his stories. My son’s bedroom used to be shared by this man and his sister. He showed me where the beds were and marveled at how much space the dormers had added to the room. We laughed at the stair mishaps in each family—his brother had broken his leg on the stairway. My eldest nearly did the same when he dove from the top stair, yelling “to infinity and beyond” during his Buzz Lightyear wannabe years.
He was able to show his son a bit of his former life, and I could tell how happy it made him. He really wasn’t much younger than I was—and I know how much it meant to me that my boys had spent holidays in the home I grew up in.
I told him the candy shop was still open downtown—the one that would have been here when he was young. He said he and his son would walk to it, for old time’s sake—and asked me if his old school was still standing so he could visit on the way. But, before he walked out the door, he asked if he could take a photo of my living room. He knew his parents would want to see it. And he complimented me again on how lovely he thought the house was. My house is not large, folks. It’s got scratches and dents, for sure. But it is well loved. And I try to surround us with objects of beauty. I think most people feel the energy when they enter. I am thankful each and every time I walk in these doors.
I hope if my boys ever want to come back as middle-aged men, that the house still stands. That there is a woman willing to let them walk down memory lane. And that the energy remains. It’s a house you can feel in your bones. A house that contains stories of multiple families and generations.
Which makes it a home.
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Thank you!! I was really happy for him. It made him so happy to be able to share the experience with his son.
I bet! Such a lovely thing.
This is beautiful. “People are made of places,” Elizabeth Brewster once said.
Oh, I love that. And the reverse is probably true also. Places are made of people.
Again, your writing made me teary; this time because last week a dear friend had to leave her home, a house of character and comfort filled with meaningful, beautiful things much like yours, to go into assisted living. She’d spent forty years there, raised her family, and created a splendid yard and flower gardens there. She cried. We cried. You captured the emotional bonds of home wonderfully.
Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that. My parents were lucky enough to be able to stay at home until they passed–save for a brief time in hospice. That they could do so meant the world to them. It seems if we were a more civilized society that we’d create places of really great beauty for people’s last days, so leaving home wouldn’t be quite as painful . . . I hope your friend is able to find peace.
How very lovely for both that man and you. We had several such experiences at the farmhouse, and it was good for them and great for me!
You’re so right. I could not believe how much joy it brought me to see the joy he experienced being able to see his old home again.
I absolutely love this story. I could have been that guy. Wow! In each house where I’ve lived, I write my name and date in some discreet place. I don’t want the house to forget me, either. By the way, my wife grew up in Riverside in Lawton Rd, a white stucco house on a corner. Nice town, that Riverside. 😉
In my house, my oldest son‘s handprints are in the concrete inside the house, where we created our addition. He was just 4 yrs old at the time. I hope at some point another family treasures those handprints as part of the history of the house :-). So, I completely understand your name and date gig :-).
How nice you were to let him see his old place. Your house sounds beautiful and happy.
Thank you! I tried to keep my house beautiful and happy :-). It’s my sanctuary.
Always filled with descriptive emotion and redemption – and here I thought about my first inclination of not answering the door. Time to re-inspect my expectations Kay.
Right? Had I done per usual, This experience-on both sides-wouldn’t have happened.
What a great story .. and how kind of you to let himlinger in his memories. Sigh .. beautiful
Thank you! It was a nice story to witness😁
Love that last paragraph Kristine, and it is such a moving story, I’m glad you were there to let him roam down memory lane.
Me too, Andrea! When I thought of all the variables–I might not have been home, I usually wouldn’t have answered the door, etc.–feels like it was orchestrated by a benevolent Universe that was giving him a Moment:).
I so get this. Some buildings do seem to hold character and memory. I was distraught when my grandparents’ cottage in Ireland was knocked down without a thought once the last of the extended family had died. Along with it died history and memories never written down.
That’s exactly it, Roy. It’s as if the structure itself holds the energy of the lives that have inhabited it. But in a good way. It’s a shame no one in the family could take the cottage and keep it going as a home. Especially with the happy memories I’m sure it came with.
What a great experience…I still love to see the house I lived in as a teen in Toronto, which I drive by when we go back.
Jose’s childhood house was torn down (!) to make room for the Georgia O’Keefe Museum in Santa Fe, displacing his father’s church and housing. It’s very comforting to revisit places you loved.
Oh, I’m so sorry to hear about Jose’s childhood home! But how cool that it’s Georgia O’Keefe bits that occupy the space. That’s good juju:). Would you ever stop by the house in Toronto? Happy memories there?
I am not sure I’d stop by — yes, good ,memories, lived there ages 15 to 19. But…not very Canadian to intrude! 🙂
But of course:). lol.
I was the “visitor” a few years ago to the house my grandfather built (and where I spent every summer up until age 16.) The owners were lovely and let me look around and didn’t even get scared when my tears started flowing! Once again…you touched me!
Oh, I love that they were so welcoming and let you cry:). And glad you let it out. Home is such a human thing–and it should be shared. Hope all is well, friend:).
How “lucky” you are. I have a similar house, the original part of it from 1790 as a school house. I’ve had two generations come back for a visit, and people seem to know when they walk in that this is a special place. It is helpful to me to hear them say what a nice place it is. It is home.
I love this:). It sounds like you consider yourself a caretaker of the gem–as do I. It’s more keeping the energy and love going for the next gen that moves in. My parents’ house was sold to a young family–and I am still so happy about that. Love thinking of a little girl growing up in the room I did . . .
Lovely read. Our house has a ton of history too, being 95 years old and all.
95 years! Wow. You have some interesting stories, don’t you? Do share:). We’re all listening . . .
It was my husband’s grandparents’ house. We relocated and moved in 7 years ago after extensive renovations. It still has the original staircase and 3 stained-glass windows. I never met his grandparents but I know that there were births, deaths, and weddings in the house over the years. 🙂
I read your blog about the move, I believe:). Births, deaths and weddings–what more can you ask for?!
A large family raised here too. Some of them still visit and tell us about the old days. 😊
There’s a loving feeling about your house/home that comes through and I can feel in the image you have painted with your words. It makes me feel that one can feel the warmth the minute you walk up to the house.
Thank you😊. I think it’s healing. Imagine if we all had that kind of a home growing up! 🏡
Those well loved places just have an energy all their own Kristine…well, from the owners anyway ❤
So by your comment if he wasn't much younger than you, that would make him about 25? 😀
It's all in the energy young lady, all in the energy ❤
Spot on! 25 it is😉. As you said, it’s all in the energy!
So I guess you CAN go home again. What a nice read. There’s something so warming about the timeless love a home has for people who have lived there.
That’s how I felt About the whole experience. It was really warm and rewarding to see him walk down memory lane. It didn’t seem to make him sad at all, but rather happy that the house was still well loved.
What a kind response from you Kay. It sounds like both families have very good memories of this home.
They do! Which is what made it so very cool. A shared love of the house united us, even though we really did not know each other.