Goodbye Childhood Home

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There are two things about me that maybe not everyone knows.  One:  I am a homebody.  And Two:  I get emotionally attached to things.  Or in this case: a place.

Last summer my parents moved from my childhood home.  I lived there from age 5 until I moved away for college, although it really was the only home I remembered as a child.  We lived in a large, tan and brown farmhouse out in the Iowa country, surronded by tall evergreen trees and corn & bean fields.  Across from the driveway there was a huge open area with a spot in the middle where my dad piled up fallen tree banches that would always make up an enormous burn pile.  Every so many years, there would be a bonfire gathering.  One year, we lit up the pile and once it really started to burn, a huge raccoon bolted out of the pile!  Poor guy!  Gave the bonfire observers quite the shock!

The memories really come quickly once I start thinking about that place!  My parents lived there for 25 years!  So many things happened there: good, bad, weird, scary, funny.  The thing is, when my parents moved, I couldn’t just go do a drive by and recollect the memories made there.  It was an old house.  The farm land around it was already being developed into neighborhoods with brand new homes.  It was only a matter of time when that land would be developed as well.

The demolition of my childhood home occured just about a year ago.  I took this photo the last time I visited ‘home,’ which was just a few months before the demo.

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It was an emotional last visit.  It was just so weird to think that THAT HOUSE that I grew up in was not going to be there anymore.  I can still visualize walking around in there, like crystal clear.  But that big ol’ window seat – isn’t there anymore.  Nor is the giant leaded glass window that was so old that the glass was wavy.  The slippery, wooden staircase DOES NOT EXIST.  However I can still identify the squeaks it used to make… what pitch each step made when someone climbed up those stairs.

There were parts of that house that were really scary to me as a child.  Like the attic.  I would still be scared to go up there as an adult.  And the basement!  The last time I was in that farmhouse basement was during a tornado warning the night before my wedding, 6 years ago.

My favorite room was the dining room.  A real, full sized dining room with a giant farm house dinner table.  But most of the years we had a table that was just big enough for the six in my family.  And we actually ate dinner there, every night.  A practice my husband and I have kept up in our own home.  We even had unoffical assigned seats.  Does every family have that?  I always wondered…  As most families do, we used that table for much more than meals.  The end closest to the window seat frequently held my mom’s sewing machine.  My mom put in many hours of sewing there.  That is where I learned to sew and now it has become one of my favorite hobbies.

When we got our first computer, the corner of the dining room housed a big desk with a massive, boxy computer screen.  I had an AOL email and dial up internet!  Wow… how things have changed.

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Between the dining room and family room, there were wooden column room dividers with built in bookcases.  On the right side the shelves held an assortment of photo albums and an unfinished collection of grocery store encyclopedias.  On the left: cookbooks, children’s books {my mom has always had an affinity for them} and my siblings’ and my writing center books – little typewritter printed books that we wrote & illustrated in elementary school.  My first book was written in Kindergarten and entitled: “All About Allison.”  The first page had an child-drawn, silly looking person-like figure and read “Hi.  My name is Crystallina.”  ???  What can I say, I was an amateur author…

Gosh, I could go on and on…  Who couldn’t ramble on about the memories of their youth?  That place was my youth.  And it no. longer. exists…

Ever since the house was torn down, I started having dreams about it.  Moving there with my husband and kids or secretly going there in the middle of the night with my brother and trying to pry the leaded glass windows out before the house came down.  Some of the dreams were scary, but not quite nightmares.  Some were just regular dreams and it happened to take place at that house.  I just had dreams.  ALL THE TIME.  It had been almost a year since the house didn’t exist and I was still dreaming about it frequently.  I was starting to think that I may just need some closure with this house.  {Weird, I know}  I hadn’t even seen the property since the demolition.  I just hadn’t made it that way when visiting my hometown since my parent’s had moved.

So…  I went.  We were visiting my parents and my mom, sister, two year old daughter and I ventured out to go shopping.  I told my mom I wanted to drive by the old house and take a photo. {since I’m sentimental and all}

I still refered to it as a house, though clearly, no house was there.  I pulled into the gravel driveway and, first thing, I was oddly surprised that the grass was tall.  For some strange reason I had pictured the property to be just the same as I had last seen it, only no house.  I know that sounds silly, but it just didn’t occur to me that the land would be in a different shape, no longer having a slight hill up to where the house once stood.  And that the grass would be overgrown.  I guess I just didn’t think about it.  Most of the trees remained, but since the trees closest to where the house stood were removed, it was almost hard to imagine exactly where the house had been.

I walked up where I best estimated the sidewalk had once been, thinking about how the cars would be parked here, the milk house was there, the picinic table used to be right over there.  I noticed the tall grass was really thick and full right where the house used to be.  I had really wanted to actually stand where the house used to stand, but the grass was so thick and I just thought about how many bugs and spiders would jump on me if I entered that area.  {and to think I grew up in the country…  yep, afraid of spiders!}  Also, I sort of felt like it might be unstable.  Not that it was, but the only other times I had been there, there was a basement below!

I got up as close as I felt comfortable, feeling out the ground with my foot before I put actual weight on it, just in case the ground did, indeed, cave in.  I probably looked silly, but it was such a strange feeling.  The house… was gone.  There was just some grass there.  And here I am, cautiously checking to make sure the ground wasn’t going to give out, as if the earth where that grass had grown had an empty, basement shaped open space beneath it.  I looked down and scanned the ground for a moment to see if there was any sign of a home.  Like a cabinet handle or even a piece of glass.  Just grass.  Humph.

I looked over at my mom and signaled for her to snap a photo.  Then… the emotion started to flow over me.  I twisted around and looked at the trees.  They looked SO DIFFERENT without a house in front of them.  It was hard to recognize this as my old home.  I started to tear up.  I felt… weird.  I felt like my home was gone.

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Knowing this was not the appropriate time for further exploring, not with my mom, sister and 2 year old waiting for me, I quickly headed back to the car.  I sort of tried to hide my tears behind my big sunglasses as I opened the door and sat down.  I just turned the car around in what was left of the gravel driveway and told my mom thanks for taking the photo.  Then, in my non-attractive-just-on-the-verge-of-breaking-down-and-sobbing voice, I said, “It was the only home I ever knew.”

My mom comforted me as I just let a few more tears out while we drove down the black-topped road, off to find Target.  {Surely I’d find comfort at Target!}

It will be even weirder when the land actually gets developed, but I am okay with it.  I can let it go {did I just make a Frozen reference???}  But really, I AM okay with the house being gone and I’m also okay with feeling a bit sad about it, too.  As for the almost-every-night dreams I had about being at the old house…  they tapered off and I can’t remember the last time I had one.

Now… I am making new memories with my own family in our own home:

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Thank you for reading!

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