Saturday, January 15, 2011

Street View of the Past

Usually I love Google Maps and its Street View function.  Not tonight.  I was screwing around, and learned that Google Maps can now put me on the road in front of my childhood home (which is a stretch considering it's a dirt road in the middle of nowhere).

I shouted something unintelligible at my husband, in that weepy 'I've got a cane toad in my throat' kind of way.  He must've thought I was nuts, sitting here pointing at the screen, trying not to laugh and sob at the same time.  After three tries, he finally understood what I was saying.  Poor man.  I don't think he quite knew what to do with me at that point.

You know, I'd think it was pretty cool, but seeing the old home place - the tree my sister and I planted as children, the place where we buried the dog, and all the little touches that are missing now that someone else lives there - it was a little too much.

The arborvitae I planted for my daughter when I was pregnant is gone.  The older one that marked the entrance to our driveway - the one that snapped in half during the worst ice storm I can remember - is missing, too.  Someone took my mother's honeysuckle bushes, where I used to pick 'poison berries' for my potions and as a lovely additive to my mud pies, and hacked them down to minuscule size.  They probably needed pruning, but now that part of the yard just looks weird.  The new owners added a rail to the front porch where there never was one.  That was probably was needed, too.  My mother always warned us to be careful.  Except they didn't bother with place where Janet fell off and broke her arm.

The youngish black walnut tree in the front yard is huge now, but the maple beside the house was cut down because it was ruining the roof.  (I'd heard about that one years ago, so not a huge shock.)  And someone painted the chicken coop red.  My dad's bait shop sign that hung above that door is long gone, although not quite as long gone as the shop itself.

All in all, it looks like a nice country house.  The new owner has kept up the yard and taken good care of the house.  But it doesn't look like my house anymore.  Maybe because it isn't.  My parents sold the place and moved in 2000.  I was the last one out.  Thank goodness I made it back to my car before I started crying.

I lived in that house from the time I was two until I was eighteen and then off and on for the next twelve years.  Even after I bought my own house, that place was still home.  Maybe it always will be.  Or maybe its place in my heart will be supplanted once my husband and I buy a home of our own.  Time will tell.

You can never go back, you know.  But I keep trying.  I think part of it is that I'm trying to reclaim memories I lost.  Or perhaps a part of me longs for that point where life was as easy as those summers I spent wandering through the countryside with my dog, eating nuts and berries and wild grapes where I could find them.  And when my biggest worry was whether I had gone too far to make it home by dinnertime.


  1. Very touching! I know, sometimes I look back and wonder how life got so complicated. It's nuts.

    Remember though, there are always new memories to create. And maybe you can write a book that has your old house in it, and that way it'll stay with you forever. You can keep whatever you loved and change anything you didn't.

  2. How weird! I did the same thing last night. My mom moved us around a lot, so I decided to look up all the old houses. Kinda freaky to see all that's missing now.