I spent the afternoon visiting my childhood home in Blackstone, Massachusetts, a house that I lived in from the ages of three to seventeen before my evil step-father stopped paying the mortgage, forgot to tell my mother and eventually left her. Less than a year later, the bank foreclosed on the house, leaving my mother and sister destitute and homeless. I hadn’t been back to the place in more than twenty years, so I was looking forward to seeing the home of so many of my childhood memories.
My high school girlfriend, Laura, is working as a real estate agent in Blackstone, and she saw the house pop up on the local listings and was kind enough to give us a tour. In the twenty plus years since I had set foot in the house, surprisingly little has changed. Whoever bought the house following the foreclosure did little by way of improvements. It was in bad shape when I lived in it as a child, and it’s in even worse shape now. Still, it looked like home. Half of the barn (include the roof that I once rode my bike off) is gone and the ancient furnace that once frightened me has been removed, but otherwise things appeared about the same.
Dirtier and more run down, but still the same.
The house was built by my grandfather, who lived there for several years before building a larger home next door and selling his first home to my parents. In the basement, I found the names of my aunts, Sheila and Diane, one dead and one still living, written in chalk on the wall.
Remarkable. Those names have been written there for more than forty years, scrawled by two little girls who were attending elementary school in a time before man had landed on the Moon, and yet they remain untouched today.
As expected, everything looked exceedingly small in comparison with how I remember things, with the exception of the unheated basement room that was my bedroom during my adolescent and teenage years. That room was exactly how I remembered it, probably the result of the amount of time I spent down there in order to avoid my parents. But other than my old room, everything else in the house appeared downright tiny.
I am surprised, however, that my memories have not been resized as a result of our visit. The fields to the left and right of the house remain enormous in my mind, and the upstairs bedrooms are still twice their actual size when I think back upon my childhood. I still remember the counters being taller, the closets being deeper and the basement being darker. Despite evidence to the contrary, my memories remain the same. Slightly larger, slightly grander, and more colorful than the reality that I was presented with today.
I’m glad. I didn’t have the best childhood, but we made the best of it. I’d hate to think that my visit to the old home might have changed the way I remember my childhood.
We ended our day back in Connecticut, watching Clara play in her first puddle. It brought things full circle for me and reminded me of how good my life is today, despite the troubles that dominated my life for so long as a kid.