I’ve taken the literal trip down memory lane before, always alone, usually in my car. But after having some lovely jamba juice with an out-of-town friend, up north, I decided to swing through my old neighborhood, break out the stroller and visit my childhood home.
I strolled. I mused. I reminisced. Potamus slept. He also rubbed his eyes and sweated a bit, since Seattle is still reveling in 70 degree days and the long-sleeve shirt I dressed him in was much too warm. I found the quietness of the neighborhood comforting. There was something familiar about the way the sunshine streamed through the tree-branched of the fir I used to climb as a child, though much else had changed. Neighbors we had have moved on, and I’ve kept in touch via Facebook. The swing-set in the backyard is replaced with a garden and fountains and old-lady type decorations. The color is all wrong, blue instead of beige, but the address, the first numbers I memorized are still the same.
The physical act of standing where I once stood as a child was powerful. My body remembered things my mind hadn’t: the lemonade stand on the corner, the bus-stop mornings with rain dripping off the tree branches, the greenbelt we used to sled on the 1 day we’d be off from school for snow, the way the blackberry bushes overgrew the trails with signs that said “private property, no trespassing.” As I strolled past a house I was suddenly struck with the memory of a woman who hosted Christmas caroling parties, who died of a brain aneurysm, and the tedious hours spent babysitting a Power Ranger fanatic 4 year old.
I snapped pictures and realized just how innocuous a mom-with-stroller was in such a suburban cul-de-sac. Nobody batted an eye or flinched when I peeked over the fence into my old backyard, or questioned me when I snapped a few photos of myself with my house in the background. I looked like I belonged.
And I did belong.
I drove Potamus up the road a little ways to “the train park” as we called it, and pushed him on the swings. He smiled and laughed and so did I.
And all the while I kept thinking of Miranda Lambert’s The House that Built Me
I know they say you can’t go home again
I just had to come back one last time
Ma’am, I know you don’t know me from Adam
But these hand prints on the front steps are mine
Up those stairs in that little back bedroom
Is where I did my homework and I learned to play guitar And I bet you didn’t know under that live oak
My favorite dog is buried in the yard
I thought if I could touch this place or feel it
This brokenness inside me might start healing
Out here it’s like I’m someone else
I thought that maybe I could find myself
If I could just come in, I swear I’ll leave
Won’t take nothing but a memory
From the house that built me