This photo was taken sometime before 1984. It is where I spent the first 5 years of my life. A special house near the end of a cul-de-sac, it was built by a dutch man for himself and his family. Most of my memories of living here include running around with my next-door neighbor Michael. He was almost exactly a year older than I, two little imaginative pisces had nothing but fun together.
When he died 10 years ago in a tragic accident, I was devastated. A giant piece of my childhood died. We were not close friends anymore, though we had loosely kept in touch. I had always thought our children would one day meet and play together as we had.
A couple of years ago my dad called. He had been by the old house.
“It’s not there,” he told me, shocked at his discovery.
How could the whole house be gone, I wondered. And why? It was though. It had been leveled. A new house, a monstrous one is now standing naked in its place. Not a single tree was spared in the front yard. The bird bath, the maypole, even both driveways are all gone without evidence any of it had ever existed.
I was crushed. I looked at the pictures in disbelief. How could they have taken out all those trees? How could someone erase our past so easily?
I recently moved to New York City, not far from this quiet cul-de-sac. My brother and I drove out to our old suburb to see for ourselves what had become of our old home.
We walked around the lot. Michael’s parents were not home, but they have a dog who barked at us from Michael’s old bedroom.
This is where the maypole was.
A path cuts through the wall of trees as it did along the backside of the property.
It leads to the schoolyard where we took our sleds in the winter. It is where my brother told me not to eat the snow because dogs pee on it, and where my sister and her friends threatened to tell the principal, Mr. Wisaker, when I had come up the hill to visit them at recess.
Michael’s parents’ house is on the right. As the story goes, I never walked between points A and B, I always ran.
This is the utility pole where I had my first and only ride in a cherry picker when the utility company came out to do some work.
This is the bottom half of our street which we ruled on our big wheels. Once we directed traffic until my father came out and scolded me. (I think we only stopped one car.)
Now that I have seen it, I am not sad the old house no longer exists. The memories are the same whether the house is there or not. The stories we have to share with each other have not been erased.